Hi! I’m Debi, and I am a Big Feeler. I feel all the feelings. I feel them times 10. I regularly cry in everyday conversations about my life. Do not get me started on reunion videos with military parents or commercials about kids going to college. I cannot worship without free range hand motions. And I LOVE looking through old photos to relive favorite memories. Honestly, I like all those quirks about myself. But there is a darker side to feelings and as with anything, there is easy and hard, simple and complicated. It took me years to find healthy productive ways to handle emotions like rejection, fear, loneliness and hurt. The Lord has been so gracious to place excellent tools and people in my path along the way in helping me find balance as a big feeler.
So here are my top three ways to handle the Hard Big Feelings:
1. Start with opening up to the Lord. Lamentations 2:19 says “Pour out your heart like water before the Lord…” I love that! Hold nothing back! We are safe to dump all the messy feelings out in prayer and allow the Lord to slowly rearrange our thoughts and realign our hearts to truth. So often when feelings are painful our thinking becomes distorted. What begins as a hard moment ends as a never ending pattern in our minds. Or we see only one possible solution to a problem. Or we believe we are alone in the pain. When we unburden our hearts in an unfiltered way the Lord can gently (or firmly at times for me!) challenge our unhealthy thoughts that are intensifying an painful moment or situation.
2. Share the feelings with safe people. After seeking the Lord, open up to other women who love you and can continue to point you to truth about yourself, the situation and God. We are not meant to live in this broken world alone. We need people to “share one another’s burdens and in this way fulfill the law of Christ” as Galatians says. But we do not need commiserators. We need truth tellers who love us. Someone who commiserates simply agrees we are miserable, they validate without elevating. We need friends who lift our hearts and minds to hope. God is in control, He has a plan, He loves us and is working for our good in ALL things! Share your pain but be wise to seek friends who acknowledge your hurt while encouraging your heart.
3. Pick the right time to talk. As basic as this sounds, don’t get into lengthy conversations late at night. Everything is more complicated and overwhelming when we are tired. I cannot begin to tell you the number of times a conversation derailed in marriage because I should have gone to bed and slept on it, but instead felt it just had to be solved right then at 11:26pm.
Here is something I have learned: unless it is actually life or death- It.Can.Wait. It will be there tomorrow, and you will be more rational, realistic and balanced on a good night’s sleep. When David says in the Psalms “weeping comes in the night, but joy comes in the morning…” I know it is a metaphor about how pain will pass, but David was also a big feeler. (Read any Psalms for evidence on that!) I think there is some practical wisdom in the metaphor as well.
Above all, remember God gave us feelings. They should not dictate our lives, yet we need to express them. Finding the balance is a process, and I take comfort in knowing I can grow and learn without having to be perfect in the process.