Have you ever felt guilty about how you’re feeling? About how you’re reacting to a situation you were forced into? About how much you struggle to contain what’s bubbling up inside your heart, when the world tells you to just swallow it and move on?
Recently I’ve been realizing that above all the other forms of anxiety I experience on the daily, guilt and shame towards my emotions have been rocking my world. I remember telling Joe the other day I was sorry for crying in front of him, even though it was simply because of a conflict we were having and it was a perfectly normal reaction.
I think what has stemmed from this is the fact that I grew up in a home where I would be told to “suck it up and get over it” if I felt as though I were wronged in a situation. I was told I shouldn’t be so concerned with things out of my control and I needed to “let it go and forget about it”.
Friends, let me be straight with you: this is never okay.
God did this amazing thing when He created us: He made us in His own image. Part of being made in His image was this beautiful concept of being able to experience feelings and react to the environments around us. All throughout the Bible we see God show His character and emotions:
“And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.'”Matthew 3:17 (NLT)
“Oh, how can I give you up, Israel? How can I let you go? How can I destroy you like Admah or demolish you like Zeboiim? My heart is torn within me, and my compassion overflows.”Hosea 11:8 (NLT)
“The Lord saw how evil humans had become on the earth. All day long their deepest thoughts were nothing but evil. The Lord was sorry that he had made humans on the earth, and he was heartbroken.”Genesis 6:5-6 (GW)
If we are being told by the world to deny ourselves when we are sad, happy, excited, anxious, disappointed, or frustrated, what does that turn us into? Don’t we become complacent, unable to empathize and connect? And where does that leave us?
The thing that totally sucks about struggling to identify with how I’m feeling is when I go through something really tough like a family death or hurtful words said by someone I’m close to, often times I completely remove myself from the situation, put my mind into “denial mode”, and disconnect so harshly I don’t show any emotions at all. I catch myself thinking “man this is stupid that I’m crying” and all of a sudden, the tears stop. My heart doesn’t grieve anymore, and I go into a state of melancholy where I can’t even think about what just happened because I start to forget about it.
And friends, trust me, that’s almost tougher to deal with than any hard thing I’ve been through in my life.
My issue I keep getting back to is there is this battle in my heart for attention and space. When I listen to the world’s words, I allow this shut down to occur and it begins to eat me alive. However, when I push back and reach for God’s strength and mercy, it’s painful yet beautiful. Yes, we have to deal with our emotions some day, but I’ve learned over the years that the longer you push it off, the worse it gets.
As 2019 begins, I am challenging myself to start connecting with myself more and express what’s inside more regularly. There are people in your life who are dying to know you more deeply, so reach out to them! Ask them to sit down with you and process things together. Yes, it’ll be hard and yes, it might bring a lot of tears, but like I said before: trust me, it’s worth it.