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The Danger of Bypassing Your Emotions

spiritual bypassing

Have you ever stuffed your emotions because you thought they couldn’t be trusted?

I did, for most of my young adult life. In fact, I stuffed my emotions because I thought it was the “Christian” thing to do. I would tell myself things like:

I’m not lonely. I have Jesus.

I don’t need therapy. I pray.

What shame? My identity is in Christ.

I’m not angry. I forgive.

Somehow, I thought my relationship with Christ made me immune to normal human emotions. A part of me even looked down on emotions.

I could not have been more wrong.

Spiritual Bypassing

I was guilty of what psychologists call “spiritual bypassing.” The term is tossed around a lot these days, and it’s important to understand it. Spiritual bypassing simply means that you use spiritual concepts, platitudes, or activities to “bypass” or avoid dealing with your true feelings, especially the hard ones like anger, grief, fear, loneliness, envy, and shame.

It doesn’t work.

And Christians are not immune to this problem.

For example, have you ever shared a hard situation with members of your church community and heard a version of the following response?

“You don’t need to feel depressed. God has given you so much.”

“Pray more – ask God to take your addiction away.”

“God forgave you, so you should forgive your abuser. Just turn the other cheek!”

“Starve your fear! It’s the enemy of your faith.”