Fully Living ... Fully Loving
There's an old story about a school teacher who injured his back and had to wear a plaster cast around the upper part of his body. It fit under his shirt and was not noticeable.
On the first day of the term, still with the cast under his shirt, he found himself assigned to the toughest students in school. Walking confidently into the rowdy classroom, he opened the window as wide as possible and then busied himself with desk work. When a strong breeze made his tie flap, he took the desk stapler and stapled the tie to his chest.
He had no trouble with discipline that term.
Sometimes it would be nice if life were that simple—if we could wear a plaster cast around our heart so our feelings would never get hurt!
Not so. The problem is, when we put a cast around our hurt feelings, that same cast also covers and blocks out our warm and loving feelings!
Also, when we hide and subsequently bury our feelings, we never bury them dead but very much alive; and in one way or another they come back to taunt us. And where do those feelings go? For me, by the time I was five I had learned that "big men" don't cry so I stuffed my feelings, and by the time I was in my early thirties, I suffered from wretched hay fever. Worse still, my close relationships were anything but close.
I knew I needed help. Even though I had had years of teaching that feelings weren't important and couldn't be trusted, because my life was so empty, I got on my knees and asked God to help me feel again. Oh boy! That prayer turned my world upside down and made praying for patience look like a Sunday school picnic. It took deep pain to break through my cast-like defenses.
My recovery and healing didn't happen overnight, but the good news is that when I learned to cry again and express my hurt and pain instead of repressing, burying and denying it, I was healed of hay fever. And my personal relationship have never been more fulfilling, ever. With God's help and the help of excellent teachers and counselors I have learned to truly live and love.
It may not sound refined, but the fact is that the feelings we stuff, stuff up our lives!
When it comes to handling feelings as God intended, the best example we can ever find and follow is to read about the life of Jesus in the Gospels and see how He handled His emotions. When He grieved, He wept. When He was angry, He expressed it creatively and did something about what made Him angry.
Suggested prayer. "Dear God, how dull and empty life would be without the emotions You have given to us as a gift to be cherished. Please help me to be real with my feelings and handle them creatively—as Jesus did—so I can learn to fully live and fully love. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."
1. John 11:35.