So here’s what I know for sure: when we make the decision to let go of life as we've known it - the contained, small version of life, the version where we've pretended we were in control, the version where we danced around the perimeter of the woman we were created to be, the version where we imitated others and believed what the world told us to believe - it’s going to bring up some big, messy feelings and emotions. We’ve held on tight to the lies for so long that the experience of actively encountering the feelings that come on the heels of letting go feels brand new, overwhelming, and scary. Spoiler alert: it’s supposed to feel that way precisely because it is all of those things.
And here’s why: we’ve clung to our junk for years. For some of us, we’ve clung to it as long as we can remember. We’ve gripped tight until our knuckles turned white because we feared the discomfort that would barge into our sterile existence if we looked things straight on and felt the entire, wild depth of the messy stuff. Most of the time, the burden from carrying this big stuff has been overwhelming. We aren’t taught how to deal with the overwhelm, so instead of admitting that we don’t know what to do, we keep hiding out, clinging, stuffing, numbing, and trying with all of our might to avoid the feeling the emotion that’s married to the big stuff. Those two are in it for real, ‘til death do they part. In other words, if we want to deal with the big stuff that comes with the territory of letting go, we’ve got to be willing to deal with the emotions that’s going to come along with it.
I recently read the word “emotion" comes from the French word “émouvoir,” which means "to stir up." Just when I thought I couldn’t love the French more for inventing things like croissants and macarons, they go and prove me wrong. Leave it to them to go and put skin on the word-bones we’ve had ruminating through our minds but didn’t know how to flesh out ourselves. When we feel our emotions, everything gets stirred up. When feelings are felt, our sterile existence just can’t exist anymore. Emotions bring air to our hearts - the same hearts we’ve been unknowingly suffocating for years. When the emotions come, our hearts gratefully draw in a deep gasp of oxygen, elated to join the land of the living again. But our minds? Oh, our minds pitch a fit, because they want things to go back to the way they were before all this mess got rolling, thank you very much.
Which is exactly why so many of us try to avoid feeling feelings. We think we don’t want to be stirred up. Somehow we’ve bought into the lie that says we prefer numbly going through the motions. We’re convinced that things feel safer in the land of unfeeling because we’re able to keep pretending we’re in control that way.
But in the deepest, wildest parts of our hearts, we know. We know that isn’t really the kind of life we want.
Our hearts are good, my friends. They’re just junked up with believing some stuff that’s untrue. Our job is to figure out what that junk is and sit with it - not in order to “fix ourselves" - but so we can live free. Let's decide for once and for all to be done with that whole "fixing ourselves" charade. Let’s just go and get free. Jesus has already gifted us with that freedom. So let’s figure out what’s keeping us from walking in it and get after it.
We can’t numb our pain without numbing our joy. We can’t selectively decide to numb parts of our life without numbing them all. We want the joy, yes? So we also have to be willing to feel the depth of the hard stuff, too.
It’s going to be so gritty and raw, but let’s get stirred up, gals. Let’s stop dreading the undoing. Let's boldly and wildly feel it all.
Because our undoing is only the beginning.
So let it happen. Feel all the feelings.
It's just a place to start.