“The trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let things go.”

Last fall was full of all autumn’s activities. There were multiple fairs and evenings spent on carnival rides. There was pumpkin patches and hay rides. There were drives to appreciate the changing of the leaves. There was Hocus Pocus and Ichabod.

This year is different. This year is about discovery and feelings. And learning how to let go, which is something I’ve struggled with for a long time. It’s also the number one thing I don’t like about myself. I hang on to things far too long—both good and bad. Yes, even when something’s good. I want to savor it for as long as I can, or I want to recreate it over and over. For example, it seems every year I try to make Christmastime feel like it felt when I was a child.

But that’s not life. We evolve. And if we try to hang on to good things for too long, we don’t let God show us something better.

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For the vast majority of my life, I took pride in being able to take care of myself. It’s somewhat hilarious. The truth is I’ve done a pretty horrible job at taking care of myself. And the only reason I am where I am is by God’s grace and Him carrying—and caring—me through my mistakes. Most of those mistakes have been centered around men.

I’m an INFJ and a four on the Enneagram. So I have all the feelings all the time. And throughout different periods of my life, I’ve avoided those feelings with apathy. As a result, I’ve experienced pockets of depression over a period of about 20 years.

Often I feel guilt and shame for feeling the things I feel. And those feelings are also often centered around men and relationships.

When I’ve felt things, I’ve been apologetic. I’ve told myself that it’s wrong to feel the things I feel. Or I’ve made excuses that it’s okay to feel those things and I’ve dwelled in them too long. And I’ve made countless apologies to men, often when I shouldn’t have been apologetic.

This past week a lightbulb started to go off. It started to point me to a different mindset: Feelings are good.

A pastor spoke on Wednesday morning about our eight core emotions.

Anger. Sad. Fear. Guilt. Shame. Pain. Lonely. Glad.

Look at that list and it appears only one of those are good. Gladness. But he pointed out how he believes that God thinks all those things are good.

People felt things throughout the Bible. And if we never experienced those other seven emotions, we would never become the who we were created to be. We would never work through things, evolve, grow.

So this week I started looking at my feelings as good. As something that God wants me to feel. He wants me to be sad. He wants me to be angry. He wants me to feel shame, guilt, loneliness, pain, and yes, gladness. We just can’t dwell there. And we can’t become apathetic or try to avoid it with activity.

He wants us to work through our feelings. Not to surpress them. Not to avoid them. Not to dwell in them and stay there. Because there’s purpose in our feelings.

So when I was overcome with sadness on Saturday morning because I didn’t want to hurt another person’s feelings, I was reminded that it’s okay to feel sad. But what is God trying to show me with that sadness?

For one, I think He wants me to be empathetic. He wants me to have a heart that loves people and wants good for them.

The other part of that is He’s also showing me that I’ve developed this thing that isn’t healthy and I need to work through that. I’ve been apologetic toward men for too long. I’ve felt like I owed them something. But I don’t have to apologize for not wanting certain people in my life. People who aren’t for me for one reason or another. And it’s not my responsibility to take care of those who I know aren’t for me. In fact, it gets in the way of His work.

This year I had a year-long relationship end. I asked someone out for the first time in my life. I tried online dating again, which resulted in meeting two people. One who I dated for three weeks. And one that was one date only.

Needless to say, a lot of feelings have popped up.

But I’ve also slowly started to understand and accept that God has wired me to be a feelings person. And that’s a good thing. I can have compassion and love and understanding for His people. For those who are angry. Sad. Fearful. Full of guilt or shame. Lonely. Glad. Because I’ve felt those things on a deep level. And I’m thankful for that.

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