The Day I Almost Lost IT!!
While watching Sesame Street with my daughter, I noticed a little girl playing with a jack-in-the-box toy. She turned the crank, round and round, while the music chimed on…”Pop!” out came the clown. She responded with surprise and while giggling she exclaimed, “That scared me!”
Much like the jack-in-the-box, our emotions “pop up” at times. And when they do, it can be shocking and disorienting—“Where did that come from?!”
Intense emotions are the ones that usually grab our attention.
A few weeks ago my anger “popped up”…in a big way.
· I felt tired from lack of sleep—crank.
· Someone I love said something that hurt and I didn’t want to face the pain—crank.
· I allowed comparative thoughts to go unchecked about why I’m not “successful” and why everyone else is—crank.
· I noticed my irrational response to my kids and turned that anger on myself —crank.
Crank. Crank. Crank. Pop!
“I’ve had enough! I can’t make one more meal or do one more dang dish! I’m so tired of getting no where!” I sat down on the couch, put my head in my hands and cried. Everything I had held back, ignored, and pushed aside—erupted. Earlier in the day my husband, Tim, had noticed I was having a difficult time. He offered to adjust his schedule to give me some time alone. “No…I’m okay. I’ve got stuff to do.”
Tim sat down next to me and patiently listened. He encouraged me to take time to care for myself. I needed that. I was so cranked up it was difficult to give myself what I really needed.
What’s really going on?
Through tears and conversation, I poured out my heart. My anger wasn’t really about the dishes or cooking. In fact anger wasn’t at the core of what was really going on at all.
I spent my needed alone-time finding my way back to my heart. Identifying and acknowledging what I really felt and what I really needed under the hurt, anger, and confusion.
What I needed was rest. To be gentle with myself. And in THAT space my heart became soft. With a soft heart I could see what was true and I could receive God’s presence and hear His voice of love.
God had been inviting me all along to enter into this place. At each “crank” He was there, offering me comfort and a fresh perspective. But I was too busy muscling my way through productivity—ignoring all the signs and cues which rendered me motionless. Unable to move ahead with integrity. I was hurting and going at a pace that wasn’t good for my heart.
Sometimes we act as if our emotions can be “toyed” with. Like they can be cranked and cranked and cranked…ignored, pushed aside, pummeled…pretending that everything is “okay” and then somehow expect there won’t be any consequences - to ourselves or those around us.
Some people live their entire lives in this loop. Round and round, rejecting what’s important within and ignoring the serious business of their hearts. Cranking and popping. Cranking and popping.
What’s the alternative?
Emotionally courageous people make it a habit of noticing their emotions, acknowledging what’s really going on, giving themselves some compassion, and being open to some new perspectives.
In essence, emotionally courageous people pay attention to their hearts. They slow down long enough to identify and cast aside the “shoulds” of the world. They get gently curious with themselves and ask:
What’s going on here? What do I need? Lord, what are you saying?
Emotionally courageous people are patient with themselves and tune into the stuff that’s “cranking” on their hearts. With practice, this important and challenging work helps us be more resilient and at times even avoid the “pop” all together.
So the next time you feel the emotional cranks happening, don’t be a crank. Take the time to identify what your emotions are really telling you and find your way back to your true heart.