Are you with me?? We all have them. Sometimes for no good reason. Lucky for me, I’m on the up and up and making my way to clearer skies, so I have a hearty dose of advice and know-how to shell out. Strap your seatbelt on, and grab your Diet Coke. You’re going to be okay.
Now, I’m well aware (and you probably are too) that being tired makes everything seem a bit darker: a little more terrible, a little too emotional. I’m not a mom, so I probably have very little idea how deep the rabbit hole goes when it comes to sleep deprivation, but for heaven’s sake, I got teary-eyed a few days ago reading a BuzzFeed article recapping “the best of 2015,” and then during my lunch break, I cried in my car over cauliflower soup when I got to the part in my audiobook where Amber C. Haines has her third baby. You think I’m overemotional?? Well I’m not! I was just tired.
When my guard is down, it’s easy to allow an emotional hostage situation–I’ll feel uncomfortable, sad, anxious about this or that–and then a niggling voice in the shadowy basement corner of my mind will start seething lies: You shouldn’t feel this way. Look around. No one else has these emotions right now. People don’t talk about their feelings all the time. Pull it together! After you try fixing the way you feel, you should know that feeling sad about your feelings is reason for some more sadness. So let’s start feeling emotions about your emotions. So meta, right?!
In the tender minutes of my day, I’ll wholeheartedly submit to this misleading input. I’ll allow myself to be swept along the river of deception (catered by culture, sin, and the world), and my emotions–which are perfectly healthy, beautiful things–will grow monster heads and gather wretched murky skies until I’m so many layers deep that I’ll just lie down in front of anyone who comes my way.
For whatever reason, American culture has a stiff upper lip when it comes to feeling the feels. We applaud the stoic, and we bow low to the overly unruffled. There’s not a lot of room to shed a tear without the world labeling you as sensitive or weepy. It’s unfortunate that the masses lay claim on something that’s so deeply and definitely a part of our makeup–we allow a hijack of the internal alert system that lets us know something inside our hearts may need attention.
But let me tell you, those sad, suffering feelings are never for nothing. They aren’t meaningless. At the very least, they’re birthing empathy. In the dark, despairing moments, something new is assembling within you, and when the time is right, you’ll be able to hold the hand of someone else and help them through that dark alley. From wearying shame to despondent heartbreak, you have the beautiful tool of emotion to help you manage the helm of another’s ship.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
It goes the same for the other places we’ve wandered. Experience in conquering shame can help us draw vulnerability from those who are afraid. Anger can breed courage if handled responsibly. No matter how confusing, no matter how wild and far your limbic system is leading you today, it’s part of your story, and if you allow it to, it can be a sweet breath of peace for someone else traveling the same road someday.
Whoever you are, I know you got them feelings. Whether you’re self aware or not, they’re down in there and they happen to you, and I just want you to know that it’s okay. It’s okay to take care of yourself, and there’s nothing wrong with how you are. You’re majestic, you emotional creature, you. Yes, I know you still have to cope with what you feel–good thing there’s a God to pray to, people to talk with, sidewalks to run on, and pens to write with–but removing the complexity of judging yourself for what you feel will make everything a little less terrible.
So, chin up, friend. There’s a God who cares, an eternal weight of glory that’s being achieved, and it won’t always be like this. It really won’t. Remember that! In the meantime, go to bed at 8:00pm. Go for a brisk walk, or write a nice note to a friend. Clean something weird, or pen a poem (they’re better if you’re moody, anyhow). There’s stuff you can do. Don’t minimize your pain, but instead, work it. Till it like soil, and let stuff grow.
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3-4
“A Christian’s suffering is never meaningless, I don’t care if it’s cancer or criticism. Your pain is producing glory for you.” – John Piper
Photo: Birdcage Walk