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What about uncomfortable emotions? Do we scramble to fix sadness or anxiety just like the hand that’s beginning to blister after losing a battle with an electric range? If you’re like me, you’ve discovered that there’s no magical fairy dust for feelings that make your heart sink or pound out of your chest.
I can tolerate some uncomfortable first world challenges (please don’t verify this fact with my husband)… If I allow myself to be challenged, I actually adapt more than I thought was possible. You and I, we are stronger than we think. Our strength may not be revealed until tragedy strikes but then we learn that we can keep focused at solving the problem at hand. We are much more resilient than we think.
How is it that I can be a Steady Eddie for really hard things but then I fight the urge to crumble when a grease stain gets on my new shirt? I say it has a little something to do with heavenly perspective.
When the poo-poo hits the circulating metal blades and circumstances are beyond our control, we find peace and comfort knowing that God has got our back. We realize how difficult our trail is and we trust that He has our best interest in mind; He’ll see us through. We can cast our care on Him because we know He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). However, I find it harder to imagine that our great High Priest who has been tempted in every way (Hebrews 4:15) is available to hear my concerns of an overflowing laundry basket.
We, my friend, are missing something. Something very important and life-changing.
GOD’S DESIRE FOR INVOLVEMENT IN OUR LIVES
Nowhere in the Bible does it say that God only cares about catastrophic events in our lives. He cares about it ALL. He clothes the grass (Matthew 6:30) and He knows when a sparrow falls (Matthew 10:29). Our Heavenly Father counts the hairs on our head and, by my implication, knows when we are pulling them out (Luke 12:7).
In the same way, that we may unload our gigantic issues into the hands that are large enough to hold the oceans (Isaiah 40:12), we can also place our day-to-day stresses, worries, decisions and uncomfortable emotions there as well. I know what you’re thinking- “Gee, that’s a great concept but how do I place an intangible feeling into an intangible hand?”.
LEARNING FROM A KING
You ask a good question. Let’s look to someone who knew a bit about discomfort, King David. In the Psalms, we can learn a lot about what it looks like to bring your joys and your hurts to God.
David didn’t skirt around his feelings. He recognized when he was overwhelmed (Psalm 88:7), grieving (Psalm 88:9) and in despair (Psalm 88:15). If we don’t pay attention to our feelings, they don’t just go away. Eventually, they will get our attention, one way or another. For me, that way is food.
ACKNOWLEDGE HOW YOU ARE FEELING
I like to think of emotions and stress as a child. The little one is sitting on the floor playing with her toys while her parent is busy at the computer doing work. The child thoughtfully stacks her blocks and builds a leaning Tower of Pisa she is proud of. Seeking acknowledgment, she tries to catch her mother’s eye for a “well done”, a smile, or a stamp of approval.
The thing is, mom is so involved with her work that she isn’t paying the least bit of attention to anything outside of her computer screen. In an attempt to draw mom’s eyes, the child starts to make some noise banging some blocks while lifting her arms. Nothing. She starts to cough, then whimpers, then cry a bit. Nada. Finally, she saw a great solution, one that will surely get her lots of attention and she grabs a crayon and starts drawing on the wall. Bingo! NOW she has mom’s attention.
This is exactly how emotions and the need for self-care can act. If we ignore them long enough they will scream in the language we have proven that we will listen to. For me, that language is “EAT!”. The solution is to acknowledge emotions as they come, diffusing the intensity before they grab a crayon.
David then took his cares to God. He didn’t filter out unbecoming thoughts. He told God everything and was the better for it. If you read through the Psalms you’ll see a progression from sadness to joy, from grief to trust as David tells God what he is feeling. God is not surprised by any thought or feeling we have, so there is no need to hold anything back!
He already knows that you’d like to strangle your boss, give a nice little “push” to a painfully slow driver, and eat a pan full of brownies. Allow yourself to feel the relief that comes from sharing your burdens!