After a trip for ice cream, Nannygranne and Maria settled at the kitchen table to find out about God’s emotions.
“Nannygranne, I’m sorry I said I don’t believe you when you said God cried and stuff.”
“Oh, Honey, that didn’t worry me but thank you for your kindness. I never mind someone being honest with me about their questions. Questions are how we learn to find answers. Now questions that don’t want answers, that’s different. But I do not doubt that you really would like to understand why God gave us emotions and what we do with them when they make us so uncomfortable. Have you ever felt like you just didn’t want to feel anymore?”
Maria’s puzzled expression clarified her hesitant nod. She couldn’t believe Nannygranne could ever feel as confused as she sometimes felt.
“Well, let’s think about emotions first. In fact, let’s make a list.” Nannygranne reached for her ever-present yellow tablet she kept with her Bible for recording thoughts and notes from studying. “Help me think of some good and bad emotions. No, let me rephrase that! Let’s think of “Feel Good” emotions and “Feel Bad” emotions. Our feelings are as much a part of us as our hands and mouth. But like we learn to handle our hands and mouth, we learn to manage our emotions, too. Eventually, they compiled a list.
Next, Nannygranne wanted to find where God may have experienced the same emotions. “Okay, let’s start with the Feel Good emotions. We know God is love so that we can write a verse next to that one.”
Maria began, “John 3:16! For God so loved the world. But mostly I want to know if God understands the Feel Bad emotions. I know that God wants us to feel good. I just don’t understand why He lets us feel bad sometimes.”
“Oh, I see,” Nannygranne said slowly. “If God loves us and wants our lives to be blessed, and He brings us joy and peace, then when we don’t feel those things, we worry that we’re doing something wrong. Am I thinking along the right lines now?”
Maria lowered her eyes, blankly staring at the Bible in front of them. “Yeah. I guess that is what I wonder. I wouldn’t say I like feeling the way I’ve felt today. I just want to be happy, that’s all.”
Nannygranne stroked the girl’s hair. “Maria, as a teenager, you’re just now taking your first steps into the whole world and all it holds. When you were little, the adults around you protected you from the dark things as much as they could, but that was because you weren’t ready for those realities. Just like there was a time when you couldn’t eat hard candy or grapes because you couldn’t swallow them well. But now you’re able to reason and think and search and discuss. Now you are ready to begin learning what is right and healthy in what our culture tries to feed you. One of the false things culture is telling us is that if we aren’t happy that something is wrong and somebody else is to blame. Can you think of a time when being happy would be just wrong?
Maria thought for a moment as she doodled on the yellow tablet corner. Finally, she said, “I guess it would be wrong to be happy when someone is dying or suffering.”
“…or when people are doing evil things, or mistreating someone,” Nannygranne added.
Maria looked at Nannygranne with a sober expression, “I see what you mean about growing up and understanding that life isn’t all fun and games. But was God ever unhappy like this?”
“Well, let’s see what we can find.”
Together they found and wrote down their discoveries.
Lonely – Mark 6:1-6
Angry – Mark 11:15
Sad – John 11:35
Afraid – Matt 26:42
Broken Hearted – Mk 10:14; Lk 19:41
Worried – Matt 26:63-44
Tempted – Heb 4:15
Felt Let Down – John 2:25
Hurt by his parents – Mark 3:21-35
Maria looked at Nannygranne in amazement. “I guess I owe you an ice cream tomorrow. I hadn’t thought about Jesus having all those feelings.”
“Never forget, Maria, that Jesus said, ‘When you have seen me, you have seen the Father.’ They are just alike. God has emotions, too. We couldn’t be like Him without our emotions. That fact that you feel things means that you see how things are in the world and decide what you think about them. Your thoughts lead to your emotions, but there is more.”
“More? I don’t know if I want to have more,” she groaned. “ But I’ve got a question.”
Maria started to speak, then hesitated.
“Go ahead, Maria. Did you want to say something? Remember, I love to think with you,” Nannygranne assured her.
“But don’t animals have emotions, too? Dogs wag their tails. Granma says cows cry tears when their babies are taken to the sale. If emotions prove we’re made in God’s image, then what do emotions mean to animals?”
Nannygranne smiled broadly, then looked deeply into Maria’s eyes. “You are one sharp cookie. Yes, it’s obvious animals have emotions, and we’ve both seen my dog act guilty. So what’s the difference?”
“Exactly!” Maria admitted.
At that moment, the doorbell rang. “Pizza!” Maria shouted.
Nannygranne grabbed cash from her purse before answering the door.
Returning to the kitchen, she opened the pizza and said, “What do you say we both put a pin in that and come back to it tomorrow. I don’t think we’ve got time to do our research before your mom comes. I’ve got some ideas, but I want to do some studying tonight to see what we can discover. Remember that God teaches us in two ways: through scripture and also through nature.1 I think it’ll be interesting.”
Maria sniffed the pizza dramatically. “I’ll get the drinks ready and queue up Heartland.”
“Pizza and binging Heartland. That sounds like my kind of evening. Dibs on the recliner!” Nannygranne laughed as she prepped their trays.
When Maria returned, Nannygranne asked, “Still don’t like the way you’re feeling?”
With a nod and a wry smile, Maria said, “Nah. I’m good. Guess the mood passed. Thanks for showing me how to manage it, Nannygranne.”
“Anytime, Sweet Girl. I feel like thanking God. Would you give thanks for us?”
1 Rom 1:18-21 “..His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, because they are understood thorugh what has been made…”