All the Feelings

The inclement weather has given me another day of virtual stillness and I am noticing something — when I am still, I think about the words that others have said and I have time to consider them fully.

I don’t always like considering the words of others, you know, fully, because then I get, you know, feelings.  And feelings make me, you know, feel things. 

As a child and adolescent I felt a lot of things.  I was an emoter.   Ok, ok, I know I still am, but really, I felt things. How do I know this? I remember being told that I laughed too loud and cried too much.  I can picture my chubby-cheeked, blonde-headed self being told that it was time to leave my grandparents’ house, protesting with angry face, stomping feet, and clenched fists.  I can feel my throat tighten as Frosty the Snow Man melted into a puddle. I remember stomping through the hallways at school or flinging myself onto my bed and wailing into my pillow when I felt wronged by a friend or a boyfriend.

Now, over the years I learned, of course, not to be quite so demonstrative. I mean, it’s not socially acceptable to have all the feelings.  In fact, I remember my cooperating teacher, during my student teaching experience, telling me to ‘not wear my heart on my sleeve’. Well, where else was I going to wear it?

Sadly, my strategy became to shove a lot of my feelings deep, deep down into my subconscious self.  Of course I’m not a pro at this. In fact, my face has often revealed what my guts are feeling, even when my mind hasn’t gotten the memo.  So, even when I haven’t been able to see my face, people around me have seen it and have taken meaning from it.  They have picked up that I am angry, apathetic, shocked, judgmental, or horrified, even when I haven’t realized that I am having those feelings.

I have been too busy to have feelings, after all.  Soldiers don’t have time for feelings.  They are soldiering, you know.  They are kicking butts and taking names.  They don’t feel sad about it.  And, they don’t really care if you feel sad about it.  They have a job to do, doggone it. So, either help or get out of the way.

Yeah, that has been me for a very long time.  I have pushed people aside without considering how they were feeling.  I wasn’t intending to do that.  Really.  I was just on a mission.  I was focused.

Here’s the thing, though.  The people who love you don’t really care if you are on a mission.  They just need you to care. They need you to stop butt-kicking and name-taking for a minute so that you can see that they, too, are having some feelings.  They might also be shoving their feelings into their subconscious, but if you stop moving and look at their faces, you will see that their faces are revealing what they aren’t even aware of.  You might be able to pick up that they are hurt, shocked, angry, lonely, overlooked, or terrified.

And when you see that, you can sit down beside them and be still with them together.   You don’t have to have an answer.  You don’t have to solve the problem.  You just need to sit in the stillness with them, which will give them the time and the permission to feel, really feel. 

And when we feel together, we are joined by bonds that are not soon separated.

Aren’t those bonds far more valuable than all the butt-kicking and name-taking in the world? Yes.  The answer is yes.  Learn from me, grasshopper.  Take time in the stillness to feel all the feelings. 

John 15:13

Greater love has no one than this:

to lay down one’s life for a friend

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