The story is in Luke 7:36-50. No artist conception of the event can capture the emotion. Jesus is invited to a dinner party with religious and city officials. A prostitute is there and she and Jesus become the center of attention. Luke says the women wept at Jesus’ feet, her tears falling on his feet. I’d say there was a little emotion going there, wouldn’t you?
What emotions are involved here — positive and painful?
What kind of options does Jesus have at the moment? There are several possibilities.
Jesus could have fled. I might have. He could have frozen and gone numb. I likely would have. I would have said I was just fine, but in reality I would have been scared to death.
He could have fought, taking on the Pharisees who are judging him, saying that if he were really a prophet he would know what kind of woman was anointing him.
He doesn’t fight, freeze or flee. Instead, he engages the pharisees in a story that embarrasses the host but offers forgiveness to the woman.
This is brilliant and gutsy. There is no way Jesus could have done this without being emotionally present. Jesus is very brave. He engages. He hangs in there at the dinner party even though he is being judged. You can’t do that kind of thing unless you’re pretty darned emotionally healthy. Talk about a guy who was self aware. Wow.
It’s okay to feel painful emotions. With pharisees watching this entire deal, smirking the whole time, don’t think for one second that Jesus did not feel judged. Jesus was being judged and mocked, and he knew it.
The key for Jesus was to stay present emotionally. That’s always the key when you find yourself in stressful situations. You can make tough decisions where very painful emotions are involved if you are emotionally engaged. Just because there’s pain involved doesn’t mean you’ve done something wrong, or that you’re a bad person. Where did we get that kind of wrong-headed thinking? Emotional engagement takes guts. Lot of them. Sure it does. But here’s the good news. It shows you are emotionally maturing if you can do it.
And if you stay emotionally present, you are much more likely to stay spiritually present as well. You cannot be spiritually mature if your emotional default always is to either fight, flee or freeze. You can’t be spiritually mature but be an emotional wreck all the time. It doesn’t come in that color.
Stay present emotionally, friends. Be brave. Read Luke 7:36-50 and see if you have some of the same chutzpah that Jesus had.