“Something inside is awakening. Like a dream I once had and forgot. And it’s something I’m scared of and something I don’t want to stop.”
~Sara Groves, Awakening
I am coming to realize that prior to this winter I’d spent the better part of a year numb in my emotions. Perhaps more than that. Somewhere along the way I picked up this idea that my anger is unacceptable in every circumstance – even though it was caused by injustice. There was nothing I could do about that injustice so I had no choice but to ignore the anger and hope it would dissipate over time. I believe that my sadness equated unforgiveness and told myself that I must “get over it” in a hurry before anyone noticed or had much time to comment on it.
I don’t think I was really afraid of anyone noticing my change in mood – I know I wear my emotions on my sleeve so some observance couldn’t be avoided. It was the demand for an explanation that I feared. Because every reason for my change in countenance sounded like a lame excuse — after all, He bore all of our iniquities and by His stripes you are healed, so why all this drama? I’m incapable of effectively hiding almost any emotion – so I developed a new tactic: Get over it. Which amounted to this formula of shedding a few tears, praying a few desperate prayers, then “medicating” with busyness or entertainment. This is how I lived – for years. In fear of the consequences of my emotions. It shows if you look over my journals the past few years. You don’t have to look far. Two years is encompassed on about twenty pages.
It shouldn’t surprise me that I was told I’m too emotional. When I did have an emotional outburst it was an eruption because I’d spent so much energy trying to contain it all. Those outbursts were quickly deemed inappropriate and quelled back into submission. Now my emotions are beginning to thaw — slowly, unlike the tornadoes I’ve previously experienced. I’m afraid it’s going to be the global-warming of my life that will change climates, erode boundaries and leave me permanently altered. I’m terrified, and I don’t know how to prepare for it. I’m giving myself permission to feel, but it quickly gets out of my control. I fight, and sometimes lose against the temptation to revert back to my state of non-feeling.
“If we lose our ability to feel physical pain, we’d be in a very, very bad way. Pain is an important part of surviving and thriving in this world. It’s from God. Emotions are the same way. They aren’t untrustworthy products of the fall anymore than any other part of our bodies. They are gifts, guard rails, barometers, etc., that help us survive and thrive in a world that is both full of wonderful things and many terrors too… I love Jeremiah, Elijah, Nehemiah and maybe especially Habakkuk for how they feel so much, so honestly and how God doesn’t go do the “churchy” thing of telling them what not to feel, but meets them each, in different ways.”
I wish I had a link or even a full name for this quote but it’s by someone who goes by DanaKX – she commented on this post by Elizabeth Esther.
I know this is true. I need to remember it. I have a friend who is a microbiologist in the leprosy (Hansen’s disease) field. Through her I know well the effects of nerve damage on a body. Yet, I have a hard time relating this truth to my emotions. It seems indulgent and self-centered to care for your emotions in the same way you would a physical wound. But I know that if I don’t deal with these things now it will stunt my growth from here forward. Without healing, I will stay in this endless cycle of emotional dysfunction that will effect every relationship. And that is not what I want. I want to thrive in every area and one day be able to minister from this place. The desire to honor God with my life has not gone away.
In order to heal I must acknowledge that there is pain. It’s taking me a while but I’m finally learning to do that. I’m trying not to look so much like a deer in the headlights when someone asks me, “What’s wrong?” But that question induces momentary panic. I feel like I’ve been caught someplace I shouldn’t be – my countenance does not speak of victory in Christ Jesus. I have yet to be able to produce anything other than an awkward, evasive response that leaves the inquirer more unsatisfied than before. But even that is progress for me – I’m no longer denying, lying, and covering with a smile.
So here’s to recovery through uncovering. He’s always been faithful to me.