I’ve always kept a journal as a child. I enjoyed writing; capturing the good and challenging moments of each day. Though I had people to talk to, I felt there was a part of me I could better express on paper. The ironic thing is that, though I kept a journal, with people it was harder to express my feelings at times.
I remember a very specific incident in grade school. I had an English teacher who was really into journal writing. I thought this was a great opportunity to share my secrets. In some sense, I wanted approval from her about the things I felt. Well, I didn’t get that. She basically said something to the fact that "things to me weren’t as they appeared". I believe she was meaning this to say that my feelings weren’t legitimate because maybe I didn’t understand certain situations I was writing about as she did as an adult. And maybe she had some truth in that. However, as a child, the journal was an exercise of expression and not judgement. But I felt judged like I did something wrong. I felt like she brushed my feelings under the carpet. I never forgot that till this day. It has stayed with me. Nonetheless, it just added to my fear of being vulnerable and letting myself go when it comes to my feelings.
My mother was very head strong and rarely showed any emotions in our household. There were only a few times that I would see my mother really feel emotionally. She just seemed to be okay all the time or at least jovial. She seemed steady in her demeanor like things never bothered her. I would have my feelings shut off by her many times. I felt dumb having feelings I shared about many things. I learned to temper my emotions. As I grew older, I never even thought much about it. It became deeply a part of who I was. I had a girlfriend who would call me a cactus at times lol… It wasn’t that I was mean but more like even Steven where it seemed nothing bothered me. If anything, I was being guarded and holding back because I understood that people couldn’t be trusted with your feelings.
Meanwhile, I also would meet men who were quite like my mother in the sense of being head strong (by hiding their feelings) expecting me to do the same. Not seeing at the time that they were more frightened than I was at being vulnerable. So, because their emotions were uncomfortable for them, so were mine and possibly anybody else whose feelings touched them too much.
Getting into womanhood, I basically did what many other women do. Put other people first. It’s easier to take care of someone else’s emotions than your own especially when you're taught to put yours to the side. We are more able to understand sensitivity. Well, some of us are.
One day, the Holy Spirit touched me about my emotions. That’s why it’s so important to pray. If you want to grow, be refreshed, and cleansed with the fruit of the Spirit, you must touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. He showed me that I was unable to even define my feelings. Most of us know happy, sad, frustrated, angry, and mad but that’s about it. There are so many more emotions that we feel. However, as we may be void of even feeling that our emotions are important, we’ve learned that they don’t matter. So when they don’t matter, why do we need to define them? When you depress parts of yourself, you feel lost. You've lost parts of you by hiding them. Do you feel like something is missing? That could be a sign. Are you able to define who you are truly?
I begin to understand that to be able to define my emotions and be healthy emotionally is to relate to truth through vulnerability while connected to God and connected to Christ in me. Therefore, I’m connected to Life. Life becomes brighter for me as it’s a lot easier to ‘feel’ strong and confident about who I am. The stronger I feel, the more I’m loving myself; the more power I have; the more I feel ALIVE! I no longer feel like I don’t exist. I no longer feel like I have no purpose. I no longer feel empty.
There was a time that I wouldn’t even think to write this to anyone. Well, I no longer apologize for it. I feel and I open myself to Christ within that makes it okay to be me in all that I am. I no longer apologize for feeling the way I do when I do. I no longer have fear, guilt, or shame about my feelings. I’m not saying that I’m rude, less loving or think I do everything right. I’m not saying that I don’t struggle with certain emotions. What I am saying is that I realize how important it is to be in touch with my emotions and being able to define them; that depressing them and/or hiding them makes me weak when the Lord wants me strong.
I wrote this today because I feel there are many who have or are dealing with this right now; possibly for many years. Maybe you who didn’t realize that this is a problem with you until reading this. Either way, the Holy Spirit can heal you and will heal you if you ask Him. He will lift your burdens and help to strengthen your connection to our Lord, Jesus Christ.
In addition, when you don't understand or define your own feelings, it's also easy to misunderstand the feelings of others or not see their feelings as important which perpetuates a negative cycle.
In the ‘Spirit Beautiful’ program, I work with women to empower you so that they can define yourself in a bigger way and get to the root of what’s going on within so you can reach more LIFE in Christ. If reading this is stirring you up, I’d love to work with you. However, if nothing else, learn to define your emotions without being so quick to push them aside. Work through them even if you must look up words that may more accurately define your feelings. Define them! The point is, pray about them and don’t ignore them. They are the path to your future and the strength to your power, in Jesus Name!