I’m a “stuffer” by default. If something difficult happens, I try hard to pull myself up by my bootstraps and keep pressing on. After all, there is always plenty of work to be done and I’d rather fold laundry than sit down and cry. If you do that long enough though, you can get yourself in real trouble. Your heart, mind, and body can get so out of sync that you start welling up with tears at the wrong time.
Take yesterday for example. I cried driving the kids to school, when I threw away some old worksheets the kids had done ages ago, and when I walked across the street to get the mail – then this morning while I was looking for clean socks. After ruling out hormonal causes, sleep deprivation, etc. I had to admit to myself that I was full up with some sort of sadness and it was working itself out without my permission.
Ecclesiastes 3 says,
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
I like the balance these verses bring to life. There is a time to weep, and that means sometimes you do have to press on and wait until the time and emotional space is available. But often I don’t just wait, I move right on with life and hope any lingering feelings of loss or disappointment will quietly leave if I ignore them. They don’t though, do they?
Similarly, why do I try to tell myself it is only appropriate to weep and feel sad over death or serious illness. Other hurts (like relational conflict, stress, disappointments, painful memories) warrant only a furrowed brow, at the most. Sometimes I try to talk myself out of crying while crying. Ever tried that?
The more I talk with women about painful subjects, the more I realize I’m not alone in this. I think many of us fear being seen as too emotional, or experiencing a loss of control if we allow ourselves to grieve. We hate to burden people with our tears or sadness. We don’t see any value in responding emotionally and are impatient to get on with contributing and healing and serving. I know I even believe a couple of emotions are so charged that if I let them loose, even for a minute, they might consume me.
Obviously, I’m in process here – but I am recognizing that God has signed my “Grief Permission Slip.” He has given me the OK to grieve over the brokenness of the entire world, and my little world. That gives me freedom. Being over 35 helps. Being married to a very safe man helps. Recognizing that God has made me to feel pain and respond emotionally helps.
There is still work to be done here though. Any tips or thoughts? Any stories?Any of you experiencing some victory and greater health in this area?