What are you running away from right now?
What are you pretending not to notice so that you don’t have to deal with it?
Do you need to stop holding your breath when it comes to mind?
Or stop mentally looking away if it pops up?
What do you need to face head-on and stop being afraid of?
What is your shivering soul flinching away from in fear?
It’s exhausting to keep up this façade.
Exhausting to pretend like you’re fine,
When that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Exhausting to want something so much
And have to battle against it every minute of the day.
Honesty comes before growth.
We have to be honest with ourselves
If we want to grow
Even a little bit.
When I stop and face myself head-on,
I come to find out that
I am not a strong woman.
That is a myth.
I am a weak woman,
With a desperate faith
In her strong Savior.
I can’t pretend to have all the answers,
Because I don’t.
But I can run
To the One who is answer enough
And as I do, the tears overflow.
But I am learning not to apologize for my tears –
For they are the release of hurt and pain
All coiled around my heart.
And when I acknowledge the pain,
I can release it,
Surrender it to Jesus,
And know that He is holding me fast.
And as the conversation around mental health grows these days, I’m also learning to take a more interactive role with my own mental health. A few months ago, a friend of mine shared a post on Facebook showing the difference between “Emotional Health” and “Spiritual Bypassing.” One example was that Emotional Health says, “A part of me feels sad today. I’m curious what that’s about,” versus Spiritual Bypassing” that says, “You don’t need to be sad. God has given you so much!”
Too often I’ve gotten sucked into this idea that emotions are “good” and “bad,” and when I feel the bad ones, I need to get rid of them as quickly as possible. So I’ll quote the verse, sing the song, and expect the bad emotions to be gone.
And it just doesn’t work that way. God created all of our emotions. And as I teach my kids in my classroom, feeling that emotion isn’t good or bad – it’s how we act on it that could end up being good or bad. And I especially love this idea of being curious about our emotions – wanting to understand where they’re coming from – being honest with ourselves about them – instead of trying to hide them, shove them, ignore them, or gloss over them.
So I’ve started asking myself these questions when I feel myself getting sad, emotional, discouraged, etc. –
Why am I feeling this way?
What feels empty in my life right now?
What am I trying to fill that emptiness with?
Am I trying to grasp unhealthy substitutes for healthy longings?
Where am I ignoring God’s truth in my life?
What have I been trying to numb so that I don’t have to feel sad?
It is really hard for me to be honest about these things. On the one hand, it’s sometimes easy for me to be honest with myself about these answers because I introspect all day long. But even still, I can buy into the deceptions my heart comes up with so I don’t have to deal with the root of the problem.
And it’s much, much harder for me to be honest with other people. I have learned the socially acceptable route so very well that even when asked by those I love how I’m doing, I dress my answer up in spiritual clothes or socially comfortable terms.
But like the song “The Sound of Silence” says, “Silence, like a cancer, grows.” And the more we are silent about the hard things, the hurting things, the hugely important things – the more they will overtake our minds. And our souls will shrivel because we couldn’t be honest. Our hearts will cave in under the weight of all the things we’re afraid to say.
But if we do say them, we will find hope for our weary souls.
We will find community with other strugglers.
We will find that the truth of God’s Word
Truly is life-changing.
And we will find that healing comes –
Even if it’s slow.
Give yourself grace, my dear friend,
For the struggle.
Give yourself space
To be curious,
Space to be gentle,
Space to learn,
And space to exhale
And lean into more of who God is.
(The link to the song above is my new favorite rendition – a hauntingly beautiful version by Pentatonix.)