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!
Well said Sybil! I really enjoyed this open and heartfelt post! It is one of Satan’s favorite tools used to destroy doubt and discouragement. Suffering a stroke at 44 was definitely the plan I had for my life and it would be easy to live of regret and “what ifs”. I now know that God has a bigger plan… a better plan that starts and ends with me living for His glory! We may not always know where the new path is leading but when we trust Him, there is no telling what we can accomplish! Thanks for sharing what God has laid on your heart. It resonated with me and I was definitely encouraged. Have a wonderful weekend and may God bless you and yours!
Thank you so much, Horace! You are always so sweet and I so appreciate you!
This is SO encouraging, my friend. Thank you, for reminding me that my feelings are valuable no matter the reasons for them, and it is freeing to express them- and feel them. It’s SO important to allow ourselves to be in those hard places and share them with others, so that healing can begin. We have a choice to allow them to define us, indeed. And oh, what hope we will ALWAYS find in the ultimate truth, the answer, the hope and the undying love in Him.
What a beautiful comment, Chris! Thank you so much, dear friend xoxo
I actually mentioned this same John Piper quote in my post today! This is something that I’ve been struggling with for months and months. And it’s so freeing to be reminded that all the emotions that I’m feeling are okay to feel! Sometimes I just feel like I should repress them so I’ll be “strong.” You have no idea how much I needed this!
So grateful to know you were encouraged here Audrey! Much love to you girl xoxo
I wanted to offer another perspective on this quote. I don’t know the context in which John Piper originally made this comment, so I am in no way coming against him, as I am sure there are circumstances in which his advise would apply. However, I’m not a huge fan of taking a comment out of its context and spreading it as general Christian wisdom. There are likely as many circumstances where such advise could encourage resignation in a soul that God is wanting to awaken to their captivity, encourage to contend in prayer for freedom/change, or train to contend for the freedom of others. As an example, I too had always hated the end of summer, and felt the kind of despair that seemed out of proportion with a simple change of season. However, when I brought that to God and asked Him what was up with my feelings, He lead me (over time) to the realization that I had a true physiological need for light, and the end of summer each year signaled to me a very real diminishment in my energy, creativity, and ability to accomplish what I would otherwise be capable of that would last for months. I began to contend, in prayer, for a change (His change!) that would allow me to be who I knew I was made to be, year-round. Many times I wanted to give up praying, and many well-meaning people gave similar advise to John Piper’s, which always made me feel guilty and ungrateful for desiring a change. I kept my eyes on God, continually consecrating my desires and submitting to His plans. He kept me from the precipice of resignation, which would have blocked His rescue plans for me. Ultimately, He orchestrated a move to a sunny climate for our family. I shudder to think of what life would be like, had I simply embraced the life I had, without asking God about the roots of and reasons behind my disappointment. This is just my own experience, and I’m sure there are many other situations that are more dire that mine. I believe that this quote that’s going around is incomplete, taken out of context, and meant for people in specific circumstances, and I pray that those who are supposed to be resisting resignation and who are believing God for change (His change!) in their circumstances will not feel guilty for not applying it.
“There are likely as many circumstances where such advise could encourage resignation in a soul that God is wanting to awaken to their captivity, encourage to contend in prayer for freedom/change, or train to contend for the freedom of others. ” <---- Oh, I absolutely agree! Thank you so much for such a wise and thought provoking comment! I am sure I will re-read your words many times in the future!
Oh my goodness, I can’t believe what I’ve just read ! I get extremely sad at end of summer with the change of season. I don’t look forward to winter or the ensuing holidays. Summer is so short & it’s when I am at my daily best. I want so much to stop winter from coming & i hate the feeling of having no control over it. It’s as if fast waves are coming at me & I can’t stop them. I strongly feel this inside & I don’t speak of it cuz I believe others won’t understand.