Finally, feel. Feel whatever comes. Emotions aren’t permanent but they are real. Don’t expend precious energy fighting them off. Let them come when they come and pass when they pass. Painful feelings are an unavoidable part of life but I’m still grateful for life. Grateful for every moment of life. It matters. -Dr. Anita Phillips
There it was again. Sacred echo? Not one I was wanting at the moment. This friend couldn’t have known about the odd conversation I had earlier in the day with a person at church. The man had been very intentional with stopping me to tell me it, “feel it all. Allow yourself to feel the pain.” He banged his chest as he said it.”Feel all the deep pain here,” he kept repeating it. I was heading out the next day to move my oldest to the other side of the country. There were many feelings to feel, but not right now. There was no time. There was much to be done. And “feel the pain,” really?? At first I thought he was trying to be funny, but then he kept pressing, and I was getting annoyed. How about just, “have a good trip.” “Enjoy your time with your family…” or something a bit more sunshiny. Although I was being told these kind of things and they were starting to irritate me too.
And then this quote about “feeling all the feelings” lands in my inbox. She was sharing in relation to herself and all she was learning and going through. She had no way of knowing that this thought was already lodged like a burr in my heart. “Feel the pain.” This was definitely not the sacred echo I wanted right now.
I am learning that I compartmentalize emotions at times, or at least I think I do, until they spill out in another way. Being fully present is my deep desire for my life. I crave this more authentic whole way to love and live, but it is so hard when the feelings and the moments feel deeply overwhelming, when there is no mantra, or cliché to stop the moment from feeling so big. I did not do well with either of my friends’ wisdom, “to feel the pain,” and “to feel all the feelings.” But there is a growing in awareness that I don’t and how it impacts those moments.
I have been pondering what that looks like in real time, to fully feel all the feelings. I am thinking part of it is just acknowledging all the feelings since they are there, and we are feeling them. How does one feel the full pain without becoming overcome, or without it eclipsing all the good in the moment too? When my first friend kept repeating to me “to feel the deep pain,” I was thinking I don’t have time for that. I need to get things done. My family does not need a blubbering mess of a person as we try to accomplish much in a short time, but then I realized maybe I was envisioning the emotions as a tidal wave that will drown me and render me useless. Maybe that is not the most accurate visual for emotions. That is an image rooted in fear.
And there it is, the fear to feel all the feelings. Fear that if I acknowledge them they will overcome me and the moment, but what if instead by acknowledging them it helps me to experience the moment better, to be more fully present, to allow God to flow in and soothe those places and meet me in the weakness? What if I am missing another dimension by trying to be strong and scheduling when I will feel the inconvenient emotions?
Learning to walk this road of being fully present and fully engaged is about trusting God in the moments with all that is found there. It is learning to trust God to meet me in those spaces that I feel might drown me. Do I trust that God is good all the time? Do I trust that God is for me and those around me? Do I trust that He has me? “Lord, I believe, but help my unbelief.”