It’s happened to me so many times I’ve lost count.
I’ll be sitting with a group of other Christians in a Bible study, or Rosary group, or small discussion group, or Adoration … and suddenly I’ll notice that others in the group are crying, while I’m sitting there dry-eyed and not emotional at all.
I have been a practicing Catholic my whole life, but feelings are not a big part of my faith life. As a very logic-oriented and practical person, it’s just not who I am. While religious faith brings up a lot of big emotions for many people, I am in the seemingly small minority that is not emotional about religion.
I’ve wondered if I’m just super weird (probably true!), but I suspect I’m not the only one. I think there must be other people out there who are devout and believing Christians, but don’t find that their feelings are a big part of their belief in Christ.
If you’ve ever wondered what role feelings should play in your faith, here are a few things to keep in mind.
1Our feelings shouldn’t dictate whether we go to church
While emotions can play a beautiful role in a person’s faith life, we should not decide whether or not to pray, go to church, and practice our faith based on how we are feeling that day.
Similarly to how marriage requires us to commit to choosing each other even when we are having a bad day or don’t feel like it, we grow in faith when we choose God even when we don’t feel like it.
Feelings can bring great depth and understanding to our faith life, but we can’t base our religious practice only on how we are feeling on any given day.
2It’s okay not to be emotional about faith, but it’s also okay to feel your feelings!
While it’s fine not to be very emotional about faith, it’s also a wonderful thing if your faith life and emotional life are closely connected. Let’s be careful not to suppress our feelings either.
Father Jacques Phillippe encourages us that feelings do have a rightful place in our faith life. In Thirsting for Prayer, he writes:
Too often in the recent life of the Church, believers have suffered from a failure to give its due place to their capacity to feel. One of the Psalms invites us: “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps 34:8). We have the right to ask for sense-perceptible graces, so that we can taste something of the mystery of God, the truths of the faith, with our bodies, senses, and emotions. Otherwise we will not be able to understand them and bring them into our lives in a dynamic way. All the methods of prayer and meditation that bring the senses into play, and call on our human ability to be moved, are perfectly legitimate.
If feelings are a big part of your faith, I love that for you. And if you’re like me, religious without having big feelings about faith, that’s fine, too.
God made us all different, and we don’t have to pretend to be someone we’re not. Whatever role feelings play in your faith life, you belong here and you are deeply loved, just the way you are.