Feeling it, for real

I come from a long line of feeling stuffers. We don’t reveal too much. If you look closely, though, you’ll see a trickle of stress disguised as an Oreo. Or a tad of frustration hiding in a journal. We’ve got feelings, all right, but unless they feel like spiritual sweetness—peace, joy, and the Galatians 5 goodies—keep ‘em to yourself.

Why hide the unpleasant things? It comes from honest intentions, I think: If we force a smile, then evil is defeated. If we stay upbeat, then faith is inspiring. Trouble is, we aren’t being real. Or letting God work through our real world struggles.

So here’s the truth about pushing down those unsightly feelings: NOT. GOOD.

Anybody else stuffing sadness with Snickers? Or with something more secretive, perhaps even hurtful? If so, then hear the soothing news I’m learning: God created us to feel. He gives us strength to deal. And He shows the way to heal.

This morning I sat in my car, managing a stressful issue. (And by managing I mean planning a chocolate binge.) Suddenly, a Bible passage scrolled through my brain—a God gift to remind me that icky feelings are temporary, normal and necessary:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the Heavens: A time to be born and a time to die…. A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…. He has made everything beautiful in its time. ~Ecclesiastes 3:1-11

Suddenly, I got it: We’re supposed to feel everything, not just the parts we choose. By feeling it all, we lean on God, trusting Him with our hearts. By feeling it all, we open our eyes, caring for others. By feeling it all, we take the full journey–the one that ends with tender, relatable beauty.

Chocolate lost the battle today. Instead, as I sat in my car, came a simple prayer: “Lord, I can’t hide these feelings. I’m too tired to stuff ‘em. They’re ugly, God, but I  bring them to you. Help me deal with the pains that surface. And guide me joyfully to the other side.”

(The blog should end here, but this is too good to pass up: After I prayed the above prayer, I turned on the radio. On an oldies station, REO Speedwagon belted out, “I can’t fight this feeling anymore. I’ve forgotten what I started fighting for. It’s time to bring this ship into the shore, and throw away the oars, forever….I can’t fight this feeling anymore.” Ha ha ha, Father God! Oh, how He specializes in smiles–And this laugh with Him felt good!)

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