Emotional Leprosy

6 12 2013

When I was a kid, my parents took us to the pool or the lake during the summer months. One activity we played at was to try and hold a beach ball under water. It was a lesson in futility. No matter how hard we tried, the little bugger would shoot up with a vengeance – usually smacking whoever was close by.

Pain is like this. We may be able to push down our emotions, but sooner or later, they are going to shoot back to the surface (frequently in the form of anger)

– and often injure those closest to us.

God designed our emotions and gave us a great range of feeling. In fact, as I read through the Gospels and focused on Jesus, I discovered that He displayed the whole gamut – from loud and crazy exuberance (when the 70 returned from their mission trip) to anger (when He overturned the tables in the temple), grief (Lazarus), and anguish (the Garden of Gethsemane).

We read that He was moved with compassion when He saw broken bodies and shattered lives. He was sorrowful over Jerusalem’s pending doom.

The point is that emotions are our “grace gift.” We were created for intense joy, and on the other hand, He gave us capacity to feel intense pain There is nothing inherently wrong with our emotions…it’s what we do with them that becomes a problem.

For instance, when we experience traumatic pain, we may put up a barrier against feeling that way ever again.

We don’t realize that when we blockade our emotions, we are shutting our hearts down. We fight to control circumstances, and can fall into depression – a non-feeling life.

We can become “emotional lepers.”

 With deadened emotional “nerves” we put ourselves in harm’s way without realizing what we’re doing.

The ability to feel pain by any means – whether physical or emotional – is a built-in safety feature. Those who have lost sensation in their bodies are at risk for additional injury. If there is no sensation in a hand, the person is apt to rest it on a hot surface and be severely burned.

In the same way, a deadened heart will continue to be put into situations where more damage can be incurred. Without the ability to feel pain, we don’t pull back from dangerous people.

We need our emotions!

Apart from God, there are three basic solutions to dealing with pain:

We can hide our wounds (bury them) and go into denial – the pain surfaces, but comes out in other places, often hurting those we love the most. Anger is a cover-up for pain and fear.

We rationalize – try to work it out in our mind by making what happened “okay.” The logic is that if we can make sense of it, then maybe we won’t feel hurt. It goes like this: “I was hurt when they __________, but they did it because _____________. I understand why they did ______________. I guess I would have done the same thing if I was in their shoes.”  This is avoidance. I was hurt. Period.

Our mind cannot fix our heart.

We develop an addiction – we choose our pain killer: drugs, alcohol, sex, exercise, entertainment, shopping, religious activity, work, the Internet.

“With God,” the grieving process brings healing!

Read the Psalms. Not in the nice sing-songy way they are often heard; but really read them. Take the 13th Psalm for instance:

“How long, O Lord, will You forget me? How long, O Lord, will You look the other way? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and have so much sorrow in my heart every day? LOOK ON ME – ANSWER ME! Give light to my darkness before they see me fall…”

When we take our pain to God, help is on the way, for as soon as we bring Him into the equation, we begin to realize that we do not grieve as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

Forever is a long time!

As in the above Psalm, once we pour out our heart, we begin to remember that God is our good Father. The key to our faith is the act of remembering. The Psalm continues, “But I trust in Your unfailing love, You have been good – You will  be good to me.”

When we choose to grieve in relationship with God, the Holy Spirit has access to our heart and can indeed be our Comforter; Jesus understands our grief. He went through the gamut of painful experiences, too. He experientially knows what it’s like to be hurt.

A Note About Pain and God:

God is not far removed from us, but since the day Adam and Eve fell in the Garden, there has not been one single day…not one single moment when He is not grieved and hurt by the actions and attitudes of mankind. He understands far more than we could ever imagine!

I’ll bet He longs for The Day of the Lord – when all this is over!

When I consider all He has gone through since life began on earth, I realize that I don’t begin to fathom the depths of His patience…the Bible calls it “long-suffering.” 

Long-suffering is not a metaphor where God is concerned…

…It is His “every moment” reality.

I’m thankful that He doesn’t go on vacation to “get away from it all!”

*****

In the next post, we’ll wrap up this section on grief with some practical ways to work through our wounds and find healing for our hearts. Jesus said He came to give us life “to the full.” If we are full of pain, there isn’t room for anything else.

*****

You’ve dropped in on the series Intimacy with God. It begins here: C’mon In…

This section is about loss and grief as obstacles to intimacy. It begins with Plastic Hearts

The section on Living by the Rules starts here: Where Image Is Everything

Learn about other Obstacles to Intimacy here: A Clogged Conduit

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16 responses

8 12 2013
Valerie Rutledge

Love, Love, Love this! So many people think that emotions are bad…but as you pointed out, our emotions are given to us by God. So long as we don’t allow ourselves to be controlled by our feelings, we’re good. Going to keep this one locked away to come back to when I need the reminder!

8 12 2013
lessonsbyheart

Hey, little sis – how’s life going for you these days? You seem to be doing better than at the beginning of summer. May this be a season of light, love, and laughter for you and yours.

Hugs –
\o/

12 12 2013
Valerie Rutledge

I can’t really say that our situation is any better but that my perspective has changed. Thanks for your love & concern and to God for clearing my muddled mind.

12 12 2013
lessonsbyheart

He’s good at unscrambling our minds, that’s for sure! 🙂

\o/

7 12 2013
hope4theheart

Really enjoyed the way you expressed this “In the same way, a deadened heart will continue to be put into situations where more damage can be incurred. Without the ability to feel pain, we don’t pull back from dangerous people.”

In the process of trying to keep our hearts safe through our own soul’s power we actually put ourselves in harms way.

7 12 2013
lessonsbyheart

Not only have I “been there and done that,” but have the entire souvenir collection…t-shirt, hat, shot glass and all the rest. 😉

\o/

7 12 2013
melwild

Another great post. Great series! So true about our mind not fixing our heart and how we try to rationalize pain away. I have a friend who calls that “rational lies.” But lies don’t bring freedom, truth does. So glad for God’s long-suffering and being there for me 24/7. Blessings.

7 12 2013
lessonsbyheart

Long-suffering took on a whole new meaning. 🙂

\o/

6 12 2013
inthepottershands988

Sister, you hit the nail on the head! I know a few people that have been dealing with abuse…or rather, not dealing with it. They way they are dealing with it is to fix it by dating someone that was like their father who abused them. If they can fix this guy who is as emotionally damaged as their father then they can make everything ok. And what you said about God being so patient with everything that has gone one down here since the beginning of time. Wow! That really puts it in perspective for me. Come Lord, Jesus has been on my mind a lot lately. I can’t imagine the heartbreak of God as He watches all the ways we hurt ourselves and each other. Great post, Tami!

6 12 2013
lessonsbyheart

Ugh. I did that. It did NOT work out well. My kids and I stayed at the Women’s Refuge for a couple of weeks so I could get a restraining order. 😦

Isn’t the bit about God amazing? His idea of patience and mine are light years apart!

\o/

6 12 2013
inthepottershands988

That’s awful. I’m sorry you had to go through that! I actually meant the different kind of abuse…molestation and I meant that in the past tense. They were abused as children by their father. They haven’t learned how to deal with it in the healthy way by taking it to the Father and seeking help. They just push it under the rug and hope the pain goes away…And then they chose the wrong kind of men! arg!!

6 12 2013
lessonsbyheart

Mmm hmm…ditto. Not one, but three marriages. 😦 It took a ton of the Lord’s healing touch before I was able to look for a healthy husband.

He is faithful, though. Love that about Him! My hubby (#4) & I celebrated 17 years last June. 🙂

\o/

6 12 2013
Marijo Phelps

GOOD stuff…. God laughed, God cried…. I do not think He “stuffed”…. I always learn from and enjoy your writings! THANKS

6 12 2013
lessonsbyheart

Hey, Marijo! How are you doing? I miss our chats!

May God’s favor shine especially bright on you this Christmas season. 🙂

\o/

6 12 2013
Marijo Phelps

Thanks so much – I miss talking too! Is much happening on WC? Mark never replied to me and I sure hope he is ok!

6 12 2013
lessonsbyheart

I’ve been busy with music classes, and haven’t posted anywhere other than my blog…no time right now. I haven’t been there since shortly after you resigned, so I couldn’t say.

\o/

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