Are you honest with your emotions, or do you tend to stuff them down or store them away?
Last week, during a phone conversation with an acquaintance, a particular situation that has been assisting me with new ways of expanding my patience (in other words, trying nerves I did not think existed), hit a new low.
We momentarily ended the conversation, so I could attend to the matter.
While I communicated with the central figure orchestrating this miserable and unethical madness, I suspended my emotions to communicate about facts, details, problem-solving with a focus on the solution.
When our discussion reconvened, I let my acquaintance know a little about the situation. I shared what was showing up for me emotionally with this situation. Before returning to the main subject of our call, my acquaintance empathized and shared space for me to be human.
We are human.
Have a moment.
Have all the moments.
Feel each emotion without judgment or suppression.
Keep it moving.
As I felt vexation, agitation, fretfulness, with a dash of regret, present with me, I stated, “I need to be honest with myself about what I am feeling, so I can process it,” which I did after we ended the call.
My emotions about the situation were/are a choice-an easily justifiable choice. Yet, I decided to reflect on my choices.
If I am in denial about my emotions, then who is truly leading my life?
If I say that “I’m fine,” or that I am “counting it all joy,” when I am in the depths of sorrow, I am not speaking life or by faith. I am speaking from a place of dishonesty. When we lie to ourselves, particularly in painful and troubling moments, we prevent or slow down our path to actually be fine or have joy in the situation.
Week 50 of my year long hiatus from Bible study presented another opportunity for emotional honesty.
Please note, I am not aligned with people who use “emotional honesty” as a way of taking out their inner struggles on other people. For example, our emotional responses, including those stemming from unhealed traumas and wounds, are not free passes to act out pain on others. Healing is a journey, and we have freedom to choose more healthy paths.
So What? Now, What?
Following the path of being honest with my feelings, allowed me to discover the why’s, and get to transformative questions of “So what?” and “Now, what?”
After allowing myself to feel without judgment of my emotions, these two questions moved me to making decisions for how I choose to be in the situation. This reflective work allows me to honor my feelings and where I am, as I make choices for how I live.
Years ago, I used to spend so much time judging “negative” emotions that did not line up with this Christian image of a person who smiles and praises God 24/7, no matter what. I have found this image to be an insult to God and to humanity. Certain church people police Christians who feel the opposite of sunshine and rainbows because the storms of life are tearing away at them.
They question people’s faith at the moment that the fake “Praise the Lord” smile cracks. These practices can hinder spiritual and personal development, as well as create a culture where performativity is valued over authenticity.
Week 50 without the Bible, and, now, no longer being Christian, reminded me of various tools and practices that I learned despite my religious (or even in response to) norms. There are things I learned from my walk with God and from life because the Church, Bible, religion have their limits.
I can draw from the Bible, knowing it does not have all of the answers.
My Christian friends who will pray for and with me are blessings, and as powerful as they are, they have their limits.
All of us do. It does not matter how many years we spent in prayer, study, meditation, service, and leadership.
Learning to be emotionally honest has been one of these life and spirit lessons.
When we do not engage in emotional honesty, we increase the chances being driven by our emotions to the point of ignoring our principles.
Emotional honesty, on the other hand, can empower us live from our principles and simultaneously honor our feelings.
Both can co-exist within us.
And that’s fine. Really.