I wrote a bit last week about fear, and how fear can keep us stuck and swirling. And, since then, I’ve been thinking so much about feelings. Probably because I’m a person with a lot of feelings, and at times in my life I have mishandled those feelings and have paid the price.
A lot of people have a lot to say about how we should be handling our feelings, how valid or invalid they are, how much they should or shouldn’t be guiding us.
Here’s what I know:
We do not move past a negative feeling by denying it. We move past a negative feeling by embracing it.
So counterintuitive, isn’t it. So different than what too many of us were taught. Feelings were for denying—especially any perceivable feelings that did not immediately catapult us into the center of God’s will.
Instead, I’ve learned over time that what I need to do is acknowledge the fear, the panic, the regret, the longing, the sadness, the doubt, the wishing-it-were-all-different . . . whatever it may be . . . and welcome it. It’s not an enemy. It’s a clue. That feeling is trying to clue me in to how my body is doing, how my soul is doing, how my heart is doing, and also—which is really, really important—what I need or what needs tending.
If you’re trying to eradicate, bully into submission, gag, or pretty up a negative feeling you’re experiencing, I just want to encourage you to stop. No matter how much you think you’ve got a handle on it, the truth is, that feeling you’ve got locked up in the closet is probably controlling you anyway.
A radical and subversive practice is to take some time and turn toward that feeling–your current truth–and honor it by listening. Then, once you have given it some time and attention and reflection (with God’s help and possibly the help of a professional), it’s likely that feeling might be able to guide you to what you’re really needing, what you’re really longing for.
I walked by the new little lime tree in our courtyard yesterday. We just potted it in the last month—all stems and leaves. Yesterday, the first baby limes were appearing.
Tending produces. Neglecting withers.
It’s true for limes. And It’s true for our feelings, too.
Are you white-knuckling, trying to deny a certain feeling that’s right at your heels?
What would it be like to stop, turn toward that feeling and tend to its root?
Love upon love,