Not sure what has been going on in my head this week, but there's been lots to write about. Some people's therapy is making music, others work, or work out (that's how I used to deal with it)...now I write. It's been a particularly busy week with balancing two jobs. So even though I have been on the go, random things have just been going on inside, and I have found myself jotting stuff down on paper as it comes to me. This isn't normal...but some ideologies and questions have popped up, surfacing new needs for me to work through and process. It's been a fruitful week to say the least. I guess my whole plan to "take a break from thinking" will have to wait. Geez. Ha.
Rain has never bothered me...especially now. After returning from Egypt, I figured I would thoroughly enjoy the rain at first, but then over time, get sick of it, like everyone else. I am still waiting for when that will occur.
Last week, I found myself in a conversation with someone where we were discussing how we both love the rain. I decided to branch out for a sec and take things to a deeper more personal level with her when I stated, "I especially prefer it these days, when things are just tough. Sunny days make me feel like I should be full of energy and smiling. That's not really me right now, nor has it been in quite a while. The rain makes me feel okay about being honest with where I am at. The sun makes me feel guilty." She agreed, saying it was exactly the case for her as well. :) My absolute favorite thing has been all of our thunder storms lately...
This afternoon, I was able to spend some one on one time with my eldest sister... Lindy, who just gave birth a week ago. We were chatting about life, and she asked me some pretty tough questions...I did my best to answer honestly, trying to hold it together. I could feel the tears starting, and did not feel like breaking down would accomplish anything in that moment, especially since I really was interested in what it was she had to say. It's strange how tears can show up at the most inopportune moments, so I have been learning.
My sister has a lot of wisdom, but isn't one to offer it on a regular basis. Having been through some hard things herself, and knowing me, her little sister well, I value what she had to say. She generally doesn't offer advice to me about my personal life, so when she does, my ears perk up...immediately. One piece of the conversation stuck out to me, because it reminded me of a lesson I began learning in Egypt, but had sorta swept under the rug. I guess you could say circumstantially, I wasn't being forced to face it as much. She was talking to me about the value of honesty...honesty with ourselves in accepting our weaknesses, and fully recognizing our humanity. Not "putting on a happy face" to be blunt.
Basically the gist had to do with how some people struggle with the reality of their own emotions, not wanting to accept them as part of being human, wanting to "pray them away, or trust them away" as if they are a sign of weakness...or an inability to truly surrender to God. "It's okay to be unsure and angry about it. Sometimes people just need to get angry!" she said. "Amen," I whispered to myself.
Prior to my move to Egypt, I had never really thought about this concept much. I mean I had, and that pretty much consisted of me sliding it into a box...a box labeled "sin." GULP.
It wasn't until I was introduced to my own struggle with anger, which surfaced in Cairo, that I had to choose where I stood on this issue. See, to me, anger had always been considered an annoying thing "others struggled with." "CHILL", was basically my response. I didn't have patience for people who were overly angry, or even overly emotional. I was pretty judgmental with those who couldn't "get their emotions/feelings under control". Then I moved to Egypt where 98% of the people are intensely emotional...it's just how the Middle East rolls. They are a passionate people.
Then one day, I caught myself red faced, with my heart pounding out of control, I was being just plain nasty. Yikes! I was livid, and everyone around me knew it. Within my first six weeks living in a male dominated society, I finally lost it with an Egyptian man, experiencing emotions I never had had before. I was mad...intense...and was just being mean. And it just got much worse. I began struggling with putting all male Egyptians pretty much into the same category, because of what I was dealing with daily on the streets of Cairo. My heart grew hard, my compassion became stale, my words became irritable and short. I put up my guard, I couldn't help being angry. I realized I had crossed the line, and the result was not okay...that it was consuming me.
This lasted about my first 18 months living there. But part of the problem was that I didn't want to admit to myself that I was angry...and then, I wasn't willing to accept that natural part of how I was feeling. I think there was a line where my anger did become sinful, but it did not begin that way. Nor was that always the case. I bounced back and forth over that line regularly. I was humbled, even in moments of righteous anger, that my emotions were so quick to show themselves, that I couldn't "hold it all together"...that I lost my sweet demeanor. I finally had to admit that it was a struggle...and that it wasn't always wrong to feel the way I was feeling.
Working through that issue, plays into where I am today, in admitting my struggle with faith right now, and being okay with the fact that I am not grounded in being able to control how I feel. I have a lot of questions, varying emotions, and so many things I can't wrap my mind around. The reality is that I want to have faith, I want to trust 100% of the time, but that's not true of where I am. I am working through anger, disbelief, sadness, and trust..not just with God, but with trusting people.
Truly, I don't feel like I need to pretend that "I am confident things will be fine." Because even though I know God is faithful, my emotions don't always line up with my theology. Learning to pour out honesty, in the thick of trial is really hard, especially when people expect strength, and a smile. I don't know how to give either sometimes.
"God is sovereign, you'll get through it." I want to throw up. Do I know it? I do. But truth sometimes best serves in silence, and prayer...not in the spoken word.
Choosing to accept my humanity was tougher than I thought it would be. Why am I so much quicker to accept the sinful side of who I am, over the emotional side? It's easy to sin....much more complicated to admit feelings and emotions sometimes. It's tough to allow myself to feel a certain way, admit it, accept it, and let it be for a while.
Why? Do I think I should be "above this"...demonstrating the ability to "power through?" That's stupid.
Just because I know that God can redeem any situation for His glory, and that He provides what we need in the right moments does NOT mean that we won't face our humanity...nor does it mean we should ignore it. I do believe there comes a point where we can allow the way we feel to control us, obsessing over things that are out of our control, and giving dangerous power to our anger and grudges to reform our identities. Don't get me wrong, I am against all of that. I know well we can easily slip onto that course if we are not careful. It scares me how gray this line is, and how slippery things become when we allow ourselves to feel. But we can't escape emotion...or reaction.
Part of my own journey has been acceptance, in many forms. There are things I don't want to accept about myself...but need to. It's okay to hurt, it's okay to struggle...it's even natural to question what He is up to...and pour out our frustration. I believe Holy God in my head, I know Him in my heart, I see Him in the evidence of my life, but I don't always feel Him or His power. My flesh bucks His presence sometimes...and even though it's dangerous, I think it's okay. He doesn't expect us to have it all together...we are still on earth...we are still in the presence of a fallen world...we are still trapped in our bodies.
He gets it.
But...our flesh does not necessarily always point us to sin.
Please don't take this entry to mean I don't have faith, know what is true, believe in what He is doing, or think emotion is always justified. It's not. I simply am sharing that I am grasping onto being more real with who I am, on more of a carnal level than I normally do. So many of my other entries are about how my faith is growing, and it is. But that does not mean my flesh is not fighting with my spirit...that my emotions are under control...or that I don't question Him. I do. In moments of peace, I know He is present...in moments of pain, I waver in allowing that pain and being comfortable in admitting it's okay... to not be okay all the time.