Every year of life, I’ve experienced a small struggle, (small in the big scheme of things), that ultimately led to much greater discouragement because it went unacknowledged and therefore invalidated. I was too embarrassed to admit my feelings to anyone beyond one close friend who I knew felt similarly until summer of 2015.
It was only then that I shared with my Mom that I always dreaded the end of summer so desperately that I felt the end coming near like I would a noose tightening around my neck. Because I would almost never speak of these feelings to anyone, they actually intensified with each summer that went by. Imagine my surprise when my Mom expressed great compassion, and even empathy, though she herself did not feel the same way.
If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive. ~ Brené Brown
Feelings are often unreasonable, irrational, and untrustworthy, but this I know for sure… when we stuff our feelings, convinced they don’t matter, that’s often a fast track to bondage over them – regardless of what they’re about.
What about when it’s feelings over major life events or chronic circumstances we’re struggling with? John Piper says, “Occasionally weep deeply over the life you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Then wash your face. Trust God. And embrace the life you have.”
I found this quote so freeing to read and am hoping you will too. It seems we don’t give ourselves permission to grieve nearly enough because we’re too busy beating ourselves up over whether we can even justify mourning our losses in the first place. If it’s okay to grieve something as transient as the passing of summer, it’s surely healthy to mourn the bigger losses (and all those in between) too. Even the not so socially acceptable ones ….. especially those you see as less socially acceptable! Indeed, it’s far healthier to acknowledge each loss we feel, whether big or small, so we can truly process it and ultimately move forward.
“I’ve often wondered how anyone survives who doesn’t have a settled conviction that this earth is not their home. Everything here is unstable and inevitably disappointing. Jobs can be lost, economies can plunge, spouses can disappoint, dream homes can burn down, friends can fail, death can claim loved ones. If our emotional state is directed by the shifting circumstances of earth, we will constantly be in a state of turmoil and confusion. Up one day and down the next. We need an anchor in our soul that keeps us stable and sound or we’re done. Peace with God is the answer. The only answer. But praise God, an available answer. An ever-present answer. An everlasting answer.” – Priscilla Shirer
Emotions are part of our image bearing capacity, and like Christ, we will experience a full spectrum of emotions from joy to grief to anger. Regardless of your struggles, know that you are allowed your pain and you are allowed your journey. However, know that how you choose to process your new reality is entirely up to you. You can choose to let it define you and destroy you, or you can choose to let it change you and restore you. We can’t change the past – we can only process it, grieve it, and learn from it. “We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” – E.M. Forster
I have made my choice and often have to wake up and choose anew once again. How will you choose to process your pain? My hope for you is that it starts with grace, and even if there are many tears to follow, I hope it ends with trusting God as you learn to embrace the life you have.
If you know someone struggling to wade through trials and accept life as it is, this post is for them too. Kindly share? Then there is this one written to help you to help them too 🙂 Big hugs and much love to you all!