I Find It Very Difficult To Feel Geunine Love For Others, Even The 'Lost' And This Concerns Me

Honestly I’ve never been a very emotional person and I attribute this mostly to my upbringing. I had a father who was present in body but not really present. My family never discussed the ‘mushy’ stuff, or the difficult things in life, I never even so much as shared personal things with them such as how my relationships were going with others. There was a lot of strict discipline for failures but never any outright expression of love. Not to say that they did not love me, just that it was never expressed. There was no crying for my brother and I except after being ‘disciplined’.

In addition to that, I’m more of the ‘intellectual/analytical’ type in terms of my personality and for whatever reason these type of people seem to be detached from the emotional aspects of life. This also leads to tendencies of selfishness/self-centeredness which I have to actively try to remain aware of and avoid or repent of.

I find it exceedingly difficult to actually sympathize with people who have issues or to more biblically state things to, “mourn with those who mourn.” Expressing emotion is something I have to actively work to do which feels forced and thus fake. Most troubling to me is my inability to feel genuine sorrow or love for the lost.

I have prayed on numerous occasions that God would grant me his heart for the lost, that he would help me to love others as he loves them (everyone not just the lost) but have never really felt like that prayer was answered and it bothers me.

At the end of the day I feel like this makes me a terrible witness to people, and equally bad in the setting of the church or mens groups when real people are sharing real concerns about real life. I can provide them biblical ‘answers’ all day long or help them to reason but as you all know, sometimes people need their heart impacted more than their minds and sometimes people don’t need answers at all.

This is why I feel I’m also not suited for apologetics…even though I enjoy it immensely and initially only began studying these things to appease my own mind, it is hard for me speak to people, even other Christians on these matters. Aside from the fact that it can give life to pride which I have to consciously be aware of and repent of (which is why I’d rather not engage so I don’t risk the pride to begin with), its easy for me to lose sight of the fact that like Ravi frequently states, “behind every question there is a question-er.”

I had to reflect on all of this even just yesterday in a group text with some Christian friends. I try to have conversations within this group that have substance and depth to them. I feel similar to John Lennox (and even Ravi) that too-often Christianity in North America is dumbed down and made shallow. Many people refuse to go beyond “God is love” in their theology and even words such as ‘theology’ or ‘doctrine’ are abhorrent to them. I have one friend like this who is in this group text, and he never wants to dive deeper even though the whole point of this group is for diving deeper into the things of God. He’s completely content with saying, “that’s all fine and dandy but unnecessary, God is love and that’s all I need to know” and being on his way.

I personally feel like Christ wants us to go deeper than that, the scriptures themselves go much deeper than that as the mysteries of God are expounded upon in several ways. Having said that, I had to stop and ask myself, “Do I actually care about what he believes about God? Or is this just my pride manifesting itself?” “Do I care that he very well might just be tacking on a little ‘God on the side’ of his life rather than making Jesus his Lord, or am I just looking for a debate?”

What bothers me is I don’t even know how to answer those questions correctly, I just don’t know, and it makes me not want to even engage with people at all when it comes to God, be it believer or non-believer. It makes me just want to focus on my own relationship with God 24/7 and keep it to myself. Has anyone else ever struggled with this?

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Ok, what you have written here is HUGE. I am going to do my best to take a piece and speak to it and may have to come back to look at another aspect.

First, let me say I understand this struggle. It is something I have struggled with, in the past, myself.

I do believe God gives us different personalities which go along with the things God has called us to. Being less emotional and more intellectual is not a bad thing. It is how God made you. And, as it turns out, it is how God made me.

I, too, often get discouraged that I have trouble connecting with others deeply and emotionally. I see how easy and meaningful it is for others. Christ is the only complete reflection of God, so we are each going to be deficient in one area or another. That is to say, we all have areas we are looking to grow in.

I do think you should continue to strive to be more empathetic. It is something which I have had to work on and which does not come naturally to me. I will say, you seem like you are part way there. The tone of this post sounds like you are grieving and lamenting an aspect of your personality. Think about how real this struggle is for you. Then imagine that others feel this way about aspects of their lives in ways different than you.

I have no way of knowing this is true, but imagine your friend you mentioned is not intellectual, and that grieves him. Imagine him in a different group saying writing a post saying, “Guys, I am in this group that is wanting to go deeper with God. I feel intimidated. I mean, I know I need to go deeper, but all of this talk about science and philosophy, I just don’t understand it. I wish God made me analytical and more intellectual, but I struggle to be that way. I just want to connect with God and feel his presence. I love spending time in prayer and sharing my faith. But, sometimes, I wonder if there is more to God than I know right now. I am not really sure how to study, and I get bored spending time alone. I am an extrovert! I don’t want to be alone in my room with a book. I want to be out among people!”

Again, I have no idea if your friend is this way. But, the idea that they are struggling with the mirror image of you should lend some empathy with their situation. I find there are people with high IQ and low EQ, high intelligence quotient, but low emotional quotient. I know it is often difficult for me to understand what I am feeling when things happen to me that cause an emotional response. Give me an argument, and I can examine it immediately. But, if things don’t work out in my professional life like I want, it can take me weeks to understand my emotional reaction.

But, I want to encourage you. Keep trying and growing. Don’t begrudge how God made you. But, don’t let your weaknesses undermine your strengths. Yes, dealing with intellectual matters like apologetics can lead you to be haughty, high-minded, and arrogant. Good news. You are already on the path to avoiding that, acknowledging that it is a danger. Now, work to recognize the signs in you that you are in danger of falling into those traps and work to avoid it.

Use your analytical mind to develop strategies to grow in this area. I know that might seem counterintuitive. But, as you ‘pretend’ you will eventually begin to become. This might seem like a bad thing, but, your motives are pure. You want to be empathetic and are actively working to be so that you can minister to other people. How is that a bad thing? Pretending to be empathetic is only bad when you are doing it to manipulate others.

There are a few things wrong with this quote, but I believe the principle to be sound.

Man is the only animal that learns by being hypocritical. He pretends to be polite, and then, eventually, he becomes polite.

Jean Kerr

Think of learning emotional intelligence like learning a second language. As you mentioned, your upbringing will have an effect on you in this area. Some people grow up and emotional intelligence is their native tongue. It is what is spoken in their household. Others have to learn it as a second language. And, like learning a second language, it is clumsy and hard at first. You are going to make some mistakes. But, if you stick to it, practice speaking it, and have a good enough motivation to keep going, eventually, slowly, you become fluent.

Please do not step evangelizing and talking to others about your faith. That idea can only come from one place, and it isn’t heaven. The enemy would like nothing more than for you to close your mouth from sharing the Gospel. Don’t let him have the satisfaction.

You obviously have a passion for evangelism. I understand your doubts, I have them too. This post reads like something I could have written myself. The labor is intense, but the rewards are worth it.

One last thing and I will leave it for now. Sometimes if you are struggling with something, trying to figure out if you are good or bad, you are most likely good. Most of the time, arrogant people don’t worry about whether or not they are arrogant. Conceited people don’t think about how others are perceiving them. They only care about themselves. They think they are better than other people, why would they care what others think?

Your post does not read like someone who only cares about themselves. Honestly, if you did, why would you reach out to begin with? Yes, pride is a danger, and you are right to be wary of it. However, I don’t think it is a reflection of the core of who you are. Keep working, keep seeking, keep praying. You are on the right road. And whatever you do, do not stop. Don’t stop learning and growing in your knowledge of God and his Word. And don’t stop sharing that knowledge and love with others. Make mistakes, repent, learn, grow. Keep doing your best with a pure heart. Learn about others, not just their ideas. God sees them as persons, we should too.

I hope you find this helpful and encouraging. If I said something that is off, chalk it up to my head and not my heart.

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@N0tThe1ne. The greatest thing about loving GOD and walking with Him is the customization of the journey. While grace works the same for us all, it works individually. One of the greatest gifts we can give people and ourselves is the space to just be who we are and trust the heart of GOD to close the gaps created by our humanity. He does and He will. We can relax and trust that.

I wish that emotions were a true indicator of honesty or sincerity, but in our present culture, it can easily be the drama that never gets to the point. That never addresses the need and therefore never realizes the solution. I think neither emotions nor lack of outward emotions really reveals the heart. If you interview most people we all have things that make us cry, the Barbara Walters of this life know this to be true. Often emotions have the cumulative value of just being a different type of question. I know this first hand I come from a family of dramatic people. Until we move past those immediate questions we don’t find the answers. Knowing GOD is so much more than feelings or intellect.

What helps me when relating to others is reminding myself that the value of an individual is undeniably born of the love GOD has for them. I may not be able to see, feel or smell the value, but I know how GOD feels about me; therefore, I know how He feels about others.

It helps me to return time and again to forgiveness, acceptance, and love for other people. When I remember GOD’s love for me it is immediate hands-off. There is a relief in allowing the Lord to deal with His children. However He sees fit, however, He chooses. Sometimes the emotion of love is simply the acceptance that GOD sees and knows. And when I listen He will direct my actions towards all His children.

That keeps me from searching for the best way to reach anyone. That resolves the issues of being GOD’s ambassador on the Earth. Whatever lacks in my presentation GOD will and does use it all. I am going to trust Him to cover my inadequacy. I am going to love Him, it is the safest way to live among other “mostly bags of water!” :grin:

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I would like to start by saying I am praying for you. You are deeply bothered that you cant express your emotions.
I have two adult step sons that I have been with since they were about 4 years old. To make this shorter one introvert one extrovert. My point is in this scripture
Romans 12:6‭-‬8
In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
I have heard these called the gifts of the FATHER given to us when we were formed in our Mothers womb. When I was a child before being polutted with life, innocent, I was sensitive, and emotional. From the age of 16 because of abuse, hurts and pain from others I withdrew and became a nomad never getting close to anyone. Today I have that back because of Jesus. God restored what the enemy stole. In conclusion FATHER knows how He made us. I hope this encourages you.

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Thank you very much for your well thought-out response, this actually spoke to me quite a bit and I’m grateful… I’ve definitely got some things to mull over but this gives me hope.

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Thank you for offering this perspective, it was definitely helpful and I appreciate the response.

Thank you for both your prayers and your insight as to the gifts given to us by God, it was definitely encouraging.

I would like to add one more thought inspired by something @cer7 said. I was speaking to a Zoology major at Oxford, who, in the course of our conversations, converted to Christianity! One of his primary concerns was similar to yours. He didn’t “feel” God, and because he didn’t feel him, he didn’t think it was a real conversion.

I challenged him in his thinking. I asked him if he thought that someone who chooses God in an emotional rapture has any more or less of a conversion experience as someone who chooses God because he is who he is. I told him, “You have come to the realization that there is a God. He is the creator of everything. You know this to be true, and you are choosing to devote your life to him and follow him. How could this be seen as any less real than someone who feels God is there, who may not know much about him or who he is, but chooses him because they feel him. These are two sides of the same coin, and God has a relationship with both of these types of people.”

Both need to grow more Christlike, as we all do.

He found that to be helpful, hopefully you do too.

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