Discovery 2: Emotions
I remember being a little girl and immobilized by fear. Fear of strong personalities. Fear of being wrong. Fear of being known. Fear of getting in trouble. This led to much timidness, with no courage to step out and be different. I had a stubborn streak, but when push came to shove I pulled into my shell for safety. No one knew the real Kristin for years until I proved I was smart, I could perform well and succeed as a student. Once that happened – boom – the passive aggressive version of fear came out with all its ugliness. I would fight to prove I was right, smart, worthy. When others wouldn’t or couldn’t see that, I would fling guilt and pout all over the place. Frontal attacks were not my game – they were too risky for me as a person, a student, or a friend. But underneath I would privately come around and blame you or hold a grudge – a long memory. I had a very strong sense of justice, for myself and others, but I solved it in round about ways, not directly face to face. At least not until I was much older into my early 40s.
I’d like to blame it on being a middle kid, a second daughter to a very confident older sister. But really it was a part of how I learned to cope as a person in, what was for me, a very threatening and scary world. Then I was sexually abused at 14 years old, which drove all of this to epic levels – bitterness, unforgiveness, fear of being hurt or of those close to me being hurt. Worth issues and insecurity drove me to over-perform and fear failure even more. I hated to be wrong and was very defensive – I was going to succeed and protect at all costs. I would have outbursts of anger followed by running away and hiding from the consequences. I was in full blown victim mode, everything was not fair, it was all a conspiracy, everyone else is wrong, with ears plugged and, “La, La, La, La, I cant hear you!” behavior. I would hate to say what I would have been if I hadn’t been a believer in Christ from the age of 6. Jesus pursued me through this train wreck of emotions – He was my Savior from myself, relentlessly pursuing me to trust Him with all of my fears, anger, and bitterness.
I wasn’t sure I ever was enough as a person, friend, mother, employee, student. Was I worth other people’s time and effort? Would it be best for everyone if I just disappeared and went off into a corner of the world by myself? At one point, if I had had a gun, I would have exacted my own justice against my abuser. I was that unstable – all while holding this facade of being all together “Just Fine in Jesus”. My husband can verify this schizophrenia of confident woman/insecure mess. He lived it and prayed for me through it. God was giving me a pocket of grace to heal and find wholeness. God is always faithful, powerful, loving and just as He grows up His kids into His image.
The baggage of my past is mostly resolved in forgiving and confronting my abuser two years ago. I am no longer a victim of that fear-monster, bitterness-creator, worth-crippler. I still struggle with identity as a person in the areas of parenting adult kids, intimacy from time to time, and being sure I really am a good life coach. Control can still be my way of dealing with fear when my past rises up to try and take over my thoughts again. Mostly I am growing comfortable with being authentic about my failures, admitting when I don’t know something, confronting what isn’t working between me and others – with humility and grace. The cost to my soul is too high to hide what needs to be brought into the light. My heart is tenderized by the pain of the past and I feel great compassion for others who have been wounded by life.
I can still shy away from some confrontations as I care too much about what they think. I don’t want to lose a good relationship this late in life. Friendship and relationships in general take so much emotional energy for me that I can sometimes compromise my identity to not lose them. Building new ones from the ground up can be emotionally overwhelming, but stretch my faith tremendously when I let God do that. Obviously, God still has me under construction in this area.
What I Have Learned
- They are responsible for their OWN attitudes, thoughts, words, actions
- They will be mad at me if I am truthful or confront broken things between us, but I will not die because I have Jesus. Jesus will never leave me nor forsake me. He has long since proven that over all my messed up life
- They need to own their own choices, be given room to process and decide, without guilt trips or pressure Boundaries between people must allow for that or true friendships will suffocate and die or grow unhealthy and become twisted
- Others need me to be authentic so that it frees them up to have permission to also be authentic. Allowing God to help us process our authentic messes together and grow stronger
- I need to be real
- I need to not hide
- I need to face my fears and differences with others out of a place of confidence in Christ, not my own posturing or shoring up of leaky walls
- Apologies strengthen relationships and give others the opportunities to resolve hurts and disagreements
- The Gospel is what frees me to be real, open, humble, showing vulnerabilities and encouraging others of God’s grace in their lives as well
- I am going to fail. So when I do, what is the opportunity to grow and see the Lord work?
- He is in control of every area of my life
- Nothing escapes His eyes or ears
- He is my protector and defender
- He gives me worth because He is of infinitely great value as the God of the entire universe who spoke everything into existence and knit me together in my mother’s womb
- I can and am learning more each day to trust Him with ALL of me, ALL of my life, ALL my relationships, my WHOLE existence from today until I die or He returns
I am a work in progress, but I am in the ever faithful hands of my Creator, Sustainer, and Savior. That gives me courage each day to live for Him in obedience, letting Him do AS He pleases, HOW He pleases. This is the place of peace my heart has been searching for since I first looked out and saw the world as scary. I was wounded by others and proven right, responding with fear and anger, followed by the faithful healing hand of the Lord applied over decades of time. Great is HIS faithfulness!
How about you?
- What events or people have shaped your emotions over the years?
- What impact have your emotions had on who you are today?
- What needs to be surrendered or embraced to change how you respond to life emotionally?
- What part does your faith play in helping shape healthy emotions and deal with the unhealthy ones?
- What have you learned about God and/or His Word through all of this?