How Do You Feel? Back to the Basics of Feelings

I.AM.SAD. There… I admit it. Too often I tell myself that I have no right to be sad. I should be counting my blessings or keep looking for hope sightings. Some say we should be looking for the silver lining in this crisis instead of seeing all the bad in it. That worry or anxiety about what may happen indicates a lack of faith. But these sad feelings inside of me keep multiplying as I see more lives this crisis is hurting in one way or another.

I do believe God does have a plan for good for us, but if we have a turmoil of emotions inside of us, that doesn’t mean we have no faith. God knows our every feeling, He hurts with us, and He never condemns us for any of them.

God has created in each of us a complex brain with all kinds of emotions. Our emotional health is just as important to Him as our physical health is. Stuffing our feelings down inside us and not dealing with them can cause harm to ourselves and others, even unknowingly.

I was not planning to post today as I told God I can’t because too many feelings are overwhelming my mind and my heart. Then yesterday morning, I felt nudged to “get back to the basics of feelings.” I was reminded, too, of how so many years ago when I volunteered at a social service place for children, there was a big chart on the wall with all kinds of feelings on faces. If a child could identify with one of the faces, it would sometimes open the way for him/her to process the why and start talking about it.

I found another relevant resource to help us with feelings through this corona crisis. Denise Daniels has written First Aid for Feelings: A Workbook to Help Kids Cope During the Coronavirus Pandemic. You can download it in either English or Spanish.

Even adults can find help in the sound advice this workbook has to offer. Perhaps many of us need to “get back to the basics of feelings.” We can help children within our families and/or social circles learn to be smart about their feelings and help alleviate their emotional stress, but we have to start with ourselves, don’t we?

God reminded me I need to quit ignoring or stuffing my feelings. So I acknowledged this overwhelming sadness in me and wrote out some specifics of this pandemic that cause me to feel sad. Perhaps I should write specific lists for other feelings, too, like fear, worry, and anxiety.

Sometimes a mixture of emotions overwhelms me, and I can’t even figure out why, so I start to write to God about it. Then the feelings sometimes pour out and I start processing them as I am praying to our God who understands. As I sort out my mess of feelings with Jesus, I also remember He is a Savior who cares about each one. There is not one hurt we have that He hasn’t been through Himself on this earth. Not one tear, whether on our cheek or in our heart, escapes His notice and compassion.

“When Jesus saw Mary’s profound grief
and the moaning and weeping of her companions,
He was deeply moved by their pain
in His spirit and was intensely troubled.
Jesus: Where have you laid his body?
Jews: Come and see, Lord.
As they walked, Jesus wept.”
John 11:34-36 VOICE

P.S. Just as we sometimes need a doctor for physical ailments, we sometimes need a therapist to help us process our pain and emotions. There is no shame in that. Do you need further help?

Crisis Hotlines and Resources

Each of us is unique.
What works for one does not work for another.
What feelings are you experiencing today?
What helps you to acknowledge
them and work through them?

Tears Are a Language God Understands
by Heritage Singers

Why Do We Mask Our True Feelings?

I’m fine!

“Why do you always think you have to act so strong?” My husband has asked me this more than once. Why? Sometimes I really don’t know. I try hard to tell my true feelings, but so often my automatic pilot kicks into a front of strength that I don’t really feel.

I often put on an “I’m fine” mask. I can be struggling both physically and emotionally with chronic illness, but I’m fine. My heart can feel like it’s in a million pieces, but I’m fine. My soul can feel destitute of hope, but I’m fine.

Why do some of us hide our emotions? Whether we are aware of it or not, the past has so much to do with it. The life experiences we’ve been through reflect in our behavior towards ourselves or others (both good and bad). Sometimes it results in hiding under masks of different shapes, sizes, and colors.

When I search my heart, I am certain pains from the past influence my not daring to share true-to-my-heart feelings. Sometimes I put on an “I’m fine” mask, because:

  1. I’m afraid I will hurt someone’s feelings, even if I do tell the truth in love.
  2. I’m afraid I will again be hurt or rejected by either silence or words.
  3. I figure my feelings don’t count anyway.
  4. I’m afraid I won’t be believed or understood anyway.
  5. I feel ashamed to expose who I really am or where I’ve been. People won’t accept me or will look at me differently.
  6. When I expose vulnerability in me or show my need for help or encouragement, I feel panicked and unsafe. It makes me feel weak and powerless, like I’m opening up myself for others to take advantage of me.

Fear can be so powerful, can’t it? Wouldn’t it be great if we could just flip a switch to move forward? To really believe God has us in His grip no matter what?

If only we could just step out inadequate and afraid, believing in our hearts that in our weakness, Jesus is powerful and will supply sufficient grace.

If only we could put on our blinders and see nothing but Jesus holding out His hand. The love in His eyes thawing our frozen hearts so we can reach out and grasp it.

If only we could immerse ourselves more into what Jesus thinks of us, not what people or negative voices within us tell us. To truly believe we are wonderfully created, deeply cherished, and unconditionally accepted by Him.

If only… Perhaps we would then be more ready to take off our masks and be who we truly are and who God meant us to be. 

Life can be a struggle, can’t it? Do you hide the pain you’re really struggling with behind a mask? If yes, why do you think you do it? Not everyone understands, believes, or even wants to hear you, but that’s their choice. That doesn’t make you a less-than-special person.

And you know what? What matters is that Jesus will always understand you, believe you, and cry with you. His hope line is open 24/7.

I pray that this year you and I will learn to be our authentic selves and we will be freed to fly!

A Child's Trust