Monday, January 13, 2020

Strong Emotions Much?

I think I've shared that I realized last year that I kind of grew up thinking that I was being bad when I cried--and since I'm a crier, this led me to dislike that part of myself and feel like it should be different. As I went into adulthood and realized that it isn't just that I'm a crier, it's that I experience intense emotions, I started to dislike the intensity. I mean, when they're good emotions, it's nice. I feel like Lucy Snowe in Villette, like I can live my whole life off of the memory of one good moment because that one good moment will stay in my memory forever as a very real and intense emotion. But when the intense emotions are negative, well, sometimes I can try and funnel them into writer's mode, but sometimes it just isn't fun and I wonder when I'll be able to stop the intensity.

This month, though, I had a powerful realization. I realized that yes, I do experience intense emotions, so that means that that's just how my mind works, so that means that that's how God made my mind. Wow. And suddenly my whole perspective shifted. Some people are amazing with numbers and come up with all sorts of mathematical proofs and whatnot. Some people have such good memories for facts that they make extremely effective lawyers, etc. Our minds all work in different ways--and that's a good thing.

I remember in a painful moment being told that I was thinking with my emotions, with my heart--as if that was a bad thing. And sure, in that moment I did need to see with clarity past the specific emotions I was focusing on (being able to properly identify emotions is also important and would have really helped). But it is not a bad thing that I live my life with my heart. Yes, I can have either a positive or negative relationship with my emotions. At many points it has probably been quite a negative relationship, I'll admit. It's kind of a whole life's work to get that healthy relationship, isn't it? But it is okay to feel with intensity.

Because I feel so intensely, I will always remember that one guest who said a kind word that helped lift me up when I was having a hard day at work years ago. I will thank the worker at the store who's taking my cart for me in the parking lot with genuine enthusiasm and appreciation. I will get so excited and thrilled and happy when I see the first saguaro bloom of the season. I will see all the symbols and themes in a book or movie. I will do things in my community simply because it makes sense to me. When the time comes that I give my heart to someone, it will be wholly and completely. Though I have walked through dark days, I always come back to the light--though my mind may ache to pessimism at times, my heart always leads me to let optimism triumph. And best of all, it is because I am so driven by my heart that my heart always knew that God was there and was good--I've needed to learn more details over the years, but I always had that simple fact written on my heart. Because he made my heart.

And he also treasures my heart. I can see the joy in the pink sunset and I can feel the sadness of a coyote dead on the side of the road. I can be happy when I get to see my family and sad when I don't. And though emotions like sadness may be "negative" emotions, is it not also beautiful that I can feel pain? How many expressions of pain are in the Bible? Countless. Jesus himself wept. Just as it is good to joy, it is also good to grieve. A season for everything, eh? But the fact that he made my mind and he treasures my heart means that he is also the healer of my heart and the guardian of my mind. I can experience sadness or nervousness or whatever it may be. And it's okay. Because none of this is meant to control me; just because it might come into my mind doesn't mean it has dominion over me, doesn't meant that he doesn't want to heal my heart.

I'm learning to take back my mind, which in turn means that I'm staying more aware of my thoughts and my actions are also being affected. Instead of trying to bury or ignore my highly emotional quality, I'd like to simply let it be. Some feelings I need to submit to God in order to release them; others will just need to run their course without letting them take hold of me. If the negative emotions come on me in a rush, I can remember also what it feels like to be recklessly in love with the God who holds his hands out to me no matter where I am. Because I know what it is to feel dark, I also know what it is to experience the light. So what's wrong with seeing and remembering everything through the lens of emotions so long as I'm still letting God steer my life and my mind?

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