It Can Be Both

After 9.5 years in Colorado, I am still floored by our weather. I can't tell you the number of times I have started the day in a tank top, only to have it snow a few hours later. Or, I began the day with snow boots, only to be in my shorts by the afternoon.

Outdoor picnic? Let's figure it out when we get closer. 

Mountain Hiking? Possibly, but keep your options open. 

Most folks who've lived here for any amount of time realize that in Colorado, you can get any type of the same time. 

I think we're like that too. 

Sometimes I feel immensely sad and overwhelming grateful in the same breath. To be fair, emotions aren't always so complicated; but it's okay if they are. 

Unfortunately, this is not the message that many people receive about emotion. The shaming of emotion (especially negative emotion) can create a whole slew of other issues. In my work, I have seen numerous teens and adults who never learned how to feel their feelings or how to manage the feelings once they acknowledge them. 

Do you know what happens when we are not allowed to feel? Hint, it's usually not good. Often times, addiction, anxiety, and depression all have roots in a lack of emotional regulation. 

The truth is we need all the feelings that God placed in us to adequately process the rocky terrain of life. I guess we're a bit like Colorado weather in that way. 

Most of us aren't comfortable with being messy. Frankly, many don't know what to do with displays of emotion. In Christian circles being highly emotional can even cause some folks to wonder about your faith.

Somewhere along the way we began to internalize and teach this: 

Expressing Emotion = Weakness 

This is a problem, dear reader. It's a problem because it's not our job to judge why people are experiencing emotions. All of them are necessary. 

This doesn't mean that we don't have tools or can't learn healthy ways to deal with our feelings, but we must be wise in what we communicate to others as they process emotion.  And, we must pay attention to what we tell ourselves; often we are the biggest critics of all. 

We only need to look to David in the Psalms to affirm that it's okay to feel our feelings. 

Listen to my words, Lord, consider my lament. Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray
— Psalm 5:1-2

Or listen to his cries here: 

Save me, O God! For the waters have com up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched.
— Psalm 69:1-3a

David, who was righteous in the sight of the Lord, felt deeply too. 

And then there was Jesus; not just fully man but also fully God. The Bible shows us he felt a spectrum of emotions that ranged from anger, joy, sadness, hope, and longing. 

One of the most poignant statements Jesus ever said was this: 

‘Abba, Father,’ he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but yours be done
— Mark 14:36

Jesus was about to walk into the hands of the Roman guards who would later crucify Him. He KNEW this, and he was wrestling with this knowledge. While we can't know the exact emotion Jesus was experiencing, we can know he felt it strongly enough to ask God to change the circumstance. 

Jesus felt deeply too.

So often we shame others out of our own discomfort with what they are feeling; we want them to be easily fixed or satisfied. Often times we are approving of positive emotion, but we shun the negative. We struggle with allowing them or ourselves to have all the feelings. 

Readers, let us call on our courage and ask for grace so that each of us can create space for others and ourselves to feel; this is often where God shows up the most.