Feelings are gross. They’re all messy and inconvenient and overwhelming.
They make me feel like a needy, hopeless, emotional, mess.
Yet I need to remember God created us to be emotional, feeling, deep-thinking, kind of people.
Feeling is a topic I have run into a lot lately. So many people asking how to feel, how to allow themselves the freedom and the space to acknowledge pain.
And wow wow wow, am I unqualified to answer such questions. I’m a bottle-upper. I don’t communicate my feelings very well, I let them bottle up inside until there’s no more room and then I explode into one massive puddle of tears and anger and frustration. However, I have experienced many emotions along this road of life, and for the sake of all you bottle-uppers, here is a piece of what I’ve learned…
I have spent a great deal of my life attempting to avoid being a “moody” person. My oh so wise sister always tells me, “you need to stop being afraid of becoming what you hate.”
She is so right.
Somewhere along my life, I picked up on the lie— my emotions only lead to bad things. Thus, being a moody person became a negative thing. Maybe this has happened to you too. Maybe you started to bottle things up.
This is why I think I carry the perception that feelings are messy. It’s not that they themselves are a mess, it’s that I make them a mess by not working through them at the right time. I store them up in this dark closet I keep in my head, and then one day the closet - too full to hold anymore - bursts open and releases all the stress and frustration and hurt.
One big mess.
But this mess was not created by emotions. It was created by the fact that I had stored them all in the closet at once.
Wouldn’t life look so different if I were too, instead, get rid of the dark closet, and acknowledge each emotion as I feel it? To gently care for each feeling as they come instead of avoiding?
Wouldn’t life be less messy?
I know it’s strange because we as humans can feel so. Many. Things. It’s overwhelming sometimes. Especially when you have trained your brain to ignore and avoid specific feelings. When you don’t know how to deal with things like pain and hurt and fear. Or joy and love.
What do you do when you want to feel something but you don’t know how?
You know who I turn to when I feel that I need to be understood or I need to understand? King David.
What a guy am I right? Probably one of the most self-aware people in all the Bible. I love his words because they are honest and raw, and aware of the fact that he may not always understand himself or God. His words seek a peace of mind and heart and soul.
I think this is what we need when we don’t know how to feel. We need peace. We need our minds to stop shouting at us so that we can begin to work through ourselves.
David was known as the “man after God’s own heart,” which I find so fascinating. Perhaps it is because David did not lie to God about who he was. He came before God with only, ever, his truest of feelings. Through his words of worship, lament, sorrow, and joy, David felt. He felt so deeply and he knew how to express himself.
He would go from sad to happy in a heartbeat. Talk about emotional am I right? And yet his heart was molded directly from that of Jesus’.
David cried out to God all of his feelings…
Cries of abandon...
I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me…(Psalm 42)
Cries of confession…
For I know my transgressions and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned…(Psalm 51)
Songs of worship…
Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness…(Psalm 145)
Shouts of anger….
How long Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?...(Psalm 13)
Whispers of doubt…
Will the Lord reject me forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever?...(Psalm 77)
I find it so fascinating to compare the story of David to his psalms. His stories display a confident king, ready for action, yet his Psalms tell a different story. They paint a picture of someone made honest and humble and confident by his own emotions. He found his outlet that allowed him to feel and it made him more self-aware and stable.
And God was with him through all of his feelings expressed.
But I know, friends. It is easier read than done when there really are so many feelings. I know that some of your feelings are not fun at all because they contain stories of pain and hurt, and that is what you hate. But you need to stop fearing those feelings that you hate so much. I know this is difficult and scary...
So a quick word of practical advice...
Find an outlet. Here’s what I do: I put on music to get me in the right mood that will draw out my emotions. Then I write or I do some form of art that will allow myself to freely express those emotions. I need to get it out because there are just so many things to feel. I need to create the time where I can intentionally exercise the practice of feeling since expression does not come naturally to me.
Maybe you need to get outside. Maybe you need to go on a run or sit and read a book. Without outlets, we fall too easily into the patterns of a bottle-upper.
See, I can feel so joyful and happy on the outside, and yet my insides are loud, emotional, and contemplative. They adore soft words and gentle beauty. My emotions like to be tenderly cared for and fed ravishing words of both lament and jubilation.
This is how I need to care for my soul. One day at a time, acknowledging my pain and my joy. Becoming aware of my hurt and my blessings. Not letting them sit in a locked up storage closet, but instead giving them the freedom to be expressed. Not one feeling left uncared for.
Do not forget that our God is a God of diverse emotions. And even He expresses all these things. He is both calm and mighty. He expresses both joy and anger. He sent down His son who held within Him the full range of all emotions and feelings.
He constructed us with the intention that we allow our feelings to be felt. Because our God is a God who absolutely adores honesty.
God doesn’t want you to hide from yourself anymore. He wants you to know He is there for every bit of who you are. He loves your authentic, honest, emotionally messy self.
Allow yourself freedom.
If we have truly promised God to lay it all down before Him - our lives, our hearts, our souls - then we need to also bring our sincere feelings. He wants it. He wants every part of your world. He does not want to be excluded from any. Piece. Of. You.
Hear this: You have never felt anything that is too big or too small for your gentle, loving, caring, Father. So go ahead.