My sweet friend Marianna over at Messy Journey did a live Facebook video last week asking the question “what do you need to give yourself permission to do?” And as I listened to the responses coming from the other participants, I thought of how I would answer that question.
And despite not joining in the discussion – my first internal response was immediate.
I need to give myself permission to feel how I feel.
That might seem like a weird thing to need to give yourself permission to do – especially in light of the fact that sometimes I’m a mess of emotions and I write about that mess here fairly often. But the reality is, that despite all my writings and openness about my depression and anxiety, there is still a big part of me that tries to squash my emotions. To push them down, to fight them, to hide them – out of a misplaced sense of shame.
Lately I’ve been feeling a bit of what I think is grief. It’s not exactly just sadness, but it’s also not exactly depression. There are things in life that you hope will happen, you hope will change, you hope will go a specific direction, and despite all your hoping/planning/working, sometimes it doesn’t happen that way. And there is a grief that follows it, a feeling of loss of a dream I can’t quite name. A mourning for a plan that won’t come to fruition. In hindsight, I think this is where my angry season came from recently.
“I sat with my anger long enough, until she told me her real name was grief.”
Acceptance will come, but for now, I realized I need to give validity to my feelings, and allow myself to feel them without guilt or shame squashing.
Sometimes (read: lots of times), I have trouble reconciling the truths I believe about myself with the truths I believe about God.
I’m made in His image. I shouldn’t be this way.
I’m Fearfully and Wonderfully made.
Insanity. I’m this broken, needy, weird, and weepy woman.
It’s so very easy to see myself as Broken. Less Than. Unworthy.
It’s so very easy for me to start questioning and then wake up in the dark and twisty place, and panic through the realization that despite my faith, despite my positive steps around recognizing and working through my illnesses. . . .I can’t always control it.
And then it’s so very easy to spiral down a guilty drain for feeling how I feel. . .I shouldn’t be sad, I shouldn’t be worried, I shouldn’t be disappointed with any aspect of my life. How very selfish of me.
How very, very, very Un-Jesusy.
But emotions aren’t in conflict with Jesus.
. . . His friend Lazarus had died, his friend’s sister was sad and angry, and the story goes that Jesus was “moved in spirit and troubled”. And then he wept.
Jesus had no reason to be sad or troubled. Of all the people in all the world, he knew the ending to this story. He knew that very, very shortly Lazarus was going to be resurrected. Everyone would rejoice and be amazed, and Lazarus would go on living. There was no logical reason for his emotion. And yet – Jesus wept.
Fully man and Fully God, trouble by his friend’s struggles and sadness, completely wrapped in the emotion, despite knowing all of the good that was coming, Jesus wept. Openly.
Let me just say that again. . . .He knew it was all going to be ok, and he was still upset. He didn’t hide that he was upset, he allowed himself to feel how he felt about the current situation and embraced those emotions.
Emotion isn’t in conflict with Jesus.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t put effort into working through (and sometimes past) those emotions. Especially the ones that drag us down, stop our lives, prevent us from moving forward. . .we should be trying to recognize those, asking for help, talking to Jesus, talking to ANYONE.
But beating ourselves up for it? Feeling guilty for not having enough Faith? Feeling like we can’t be sad, because we declare ourselves as followers of Jesus? Making our depression or anxiety worse, from shame of having emotions?
No. Jesus loves you, as you are. Emotions, ups, downs, struggles, sadness, frustration, disappointment, grief, dark and twistiness.
That image you were made in? It IS His.
He gets it. He’s been sad and emotional and understands a troubled soul. It’s ok. He gives you permission to feel how you feel.
Give yourself that same permission.