How are you feeling?
I loved Eilidh’s mention this morning of the ‘emotion board’ in her classroom – perhaps a wee bit like the one in the picture. Each morning, the kids have a chance to go up to the board, and point at a picture to indicate how they are feeling – and Eilidh herself can admit to being, for example, ‘tired.’ It’s a great way of encouraging both self-knowledge and empathy for others.
And as Eilidh said it’s OK to feel cross, or grumpy, or angry, or out-of-sorts, or anxious. That’s true for kids, and its OK for adults too. It’s OK to feel the way I do at the moment – it really is OK. God is not with for us only when we feel joyful and thankful and boisterous. God is with us and for us when we feel low and sad and struggling. And remembering that helps us to hang on through the difficult times believing that joy comes in the morning.
Those of us who are young are encouraged to think and talk about our feelings and emotions, but those of us who are older were maybe taught to zip our feelings up, concealing them, putting on a mask, a ‘brave face.’ I think we all need to get real about our emotional ups-and-downs, acknowledging them ourselves, and sharing them as appropriate with trusted others.
How are you?’ we asked one another when we were able to go to church.
The answer was often simply ‘Fine, thankyou,’ with the implication ‘Now can we talk about something else?’
Imagine there was an emotion board in say a church house group, and if we wanted to, we could go up and indicate what we were feeling that day, how strong or weak our faith was, whether we were full of hope, or despair.
Would we be brave enough to share? Would be open to other people sharing their true thoughts? Would we be open to receiving encouragement and blessing from others if we shared our hearts?
The point about Eilidh’s classroom is that it is a safe place, a place where people know and trust and respect and care for one another.
And that is a vision of what church, at its best, provides us with – a place where people know and trust and respect and care for one another.
Our father God knows, and respects and trusts us, and cares for us and loves us. And we can come and say ‘Father God this morning I am feeling absolutely awful! Be with me! Help me! Sustain me!’ And often (though mysteriously not always) we will find ourselves encouraged in the course of the day.’
And in that faith, we can say with St Paul, as Eilidh reminded us:
. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)