I've had more than one experience in the past 48 hours where I've come face to face with emotions. Emotions of my children, emotions of my own & emotions of friends. I'm a very emotional person. I love people. I love to love on people. I. Just. Love. People. I've learned a lot about emotions in the last few years and I've learned it the hard way. I've learned that every body has them. I've learned that my angry won't look like your angry and my sad won't look like your sad. My hurt might cry...your hurt might fight--but it's all still hurt, it's all still saddness, and it's all still anger.
Along with this heart that craves to love on people, my ears have been sensitized to hear people differently. I don't know when it happened but at some point when I'd visit with people I wouldn't just hear the details of what they were saying, I'd hear the emotion driving their perceptions of those details. Was that confusing? What I mean is, when someone would share with me how they were angry with someone and about a disagreement they may have had. I wouldn't just hear the words they repeated to me from the disagreement. I'd hear how they FELT when they heard whatever words had been spoken to them. There is a difference. Because you see, whatever we feel when someone says something to us has a HUGE impact & determines what comes out of our mouths next.
What is my hearts desire? Well, each time I've been slapped in the face with these emotions in the last 2-3 days, I keep coming back to the same point. If we can be present enough in the midst of the situation when we are offended to say to ourselves, Wow, that comment really hurt me. I can't believe they just said that to me. And then be able to hold our tongues for just a second while we collect our next sentence so that when it is spoken it sounds something like, That comment you just made hurt me. After all, didn't it? I mean, that is what we felt, right? It is the emotion that's behind the comment that usually comes out of our mouths sounding more like Well, you know what?! I don't like the way you never pick up your dirty clothes!! Ok, so what do their clothes have to do with anything? I'll tell you. Their lack of picking up their clothes is two things: 1) Us thinking of something to complain about--something they do wrong and maybe even hurt them back, and 2) an attempt to defend our hearts.
So, did we solve anything? Nope. Why didn't we just say it? Why? Because, it's risky. It's vulnerable.
I'll take this opportunity to throw myself under the bus. I've got this bucket of hurt and bitterness I lug around. This is a busy bucket because I'm constantly letting God hold my bucket for a while and then inevitably, going and getting it back again. After wearing myself out (cause its a heavy bucket) I take it back to Him. Again. Recently, someone came to me and shared with me a really positive thing about someone who, in the past, has been very hurtful to me and yes, it's in my bucket still. My immediate, unfiltered and defensive response? I'm done with them, I don't really care. (Yes, I know, beautiful, right?!) After a few hours, I had to return to the person who shared the positive news with me and appolgize to them. You see, the person who shared the news with me has never been hurt by the other. Actually, the person that shared the positive news with me shared it because they were happy for their friend. The person that shared with me, loves both of us. So, what did I manage to do--create another offense. I did apologize for my nasty comment, which (thankfully) was warmly received.
I am not naive enough to think that just saying it will create world peace. I'm well aware that additional injury may occur to our hearts. This too was just modeled when two people who love each other and whom I love dearly stood on opposite sides of an offense. After the incident, after emotions were cooled off, one party said to the other, "That hurt my feelings earlier when you ___________." However, unfortunately, the other person didn't really hear and listen. The first words returned were, "Well, you shouldn't have ___________." (Oh no! Adding insult to injury.) The lesson to be learned here--sometimes our defenses (if we feel we MUST share them) should either be shared with a third party (oooo, maybe even God) -or- carefully worded in a way that doesn't end up leaving an already injured person, feeling attacked again.
If there's such a chance of further injury, if sharing honest emotions could possibly lead to more hurt then why do it? Because more times than not it calms the water. AND, in the end, a deeper relationship is created. If we'll just say it--just man up and put it out there--we end up dealing with truth. We end up taking off the masks we wear. We end up building real relationships. We end up growing as a person (no, not physically). Best of all, we end up able to show more love and in return, get more love. Who doesn't like love?
If we can start to just say it on the smaller, safer issues we'll get practice. We will see how it dissolves arguments and allows others to see the real person we are. There are still going to be offenses. There will still be times when we risk telling the real emotion of our hearts to someone and they throw yet another insult or further defend their previous attack. When that happens, the very best thing to do is turn around, hold your breath, and tell Jesus. I know it's not the easiest thing to do or more people would do it. It's much easier to hurl an insult or sling an attack.
We aren't taking the wimpy way out, we are taking the way to our Savior's lap. Now that, THAT is an awesome place to be!
I challenge you mate, try it.
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