All in my feels | Part II – Embrace

June 8, 2023

In my previous blog, I shared a bit about what it is to have the gift of feeling. A life lived all in your feels can feel very burdensome. I promise though, beautiful things can come from this life. Today, I would like to share a few things I have learned on how to navigate a life full of emotions.

If you haven’t read part 1 yet, I highly recommend reading it first before continuing on. If you are already certain that you have this gift, then don’t let me hold you back. It took me many years to learn how to navigate my emotions, and I’m still learning every day. I wish there was a point of arrival, but I do think this is the kind of gift you will grow into for life.

As arrival never happens for our spiritual lives, I can’t imagine that we ever arrive within our giftings either. There is always room to grow and mature.

Biblical emotions

The gift of feeling is a difficult one to understand sometimes. It’s not a gift you’ll read about in the Bible in that kind of terminology. What you will read about is the emotional and extravagant offerings and worship of people moved deeply within their emotions.

Think of Mary’s emotional offering as she broke the alabaster jar at Jesus’ feet. Or David’s display of worship as he danced in front of the ark of His presence. Even the psalmists had many up and down emotions. I think this is why some find those letters a bit too “unstable”, and others relate to the first-I’m-downcast-and-now-I’m-happy pace of some of them.

There is a very real working out of the internal when you read some of the Psalms. Think of the times David speaks to his soul to praise the Lord. One gets a sense that maybe he didn’t feel like praising the Lord. He had to lead his heart out of the dark places it ended up sometimes. Much like what I would call, a feeler, would need to.

Waves of emotion

Feelers tend to feel their own emotions to extremes, as well as the emotions of others and of God when He chooses to reveal it to us.

Being my sensitive self, it hasn’t always been easy to stand nearby when others are feeling things. It’s one thing to get caught up in yourself, but a whole other to get pulled into an emotional wave by the ‘feels’ of others.

When the tumultuous waves of emotions hit the ones around us, the sea spray from the waves tend to spill over onto those in close proximity. For those of us who are sensitive, the salty feeling from the waves and winds stay with us a bit longer than others. Sticking with my ocean metaphor, most can shake it off and enjoy the rest of the sunshine. For some, the sticky feeling comes home with them. They feel uncomfortable, annoyed, burdened (insert whatever emotion you relate to).

When the waves come

Standing nearby the wave of tragedy and disappointment is not one I’m unfamiliar with. I don’t think there’s a human on that planet who is. Managing your own is one thing, but being close to others as they do, can be as big of a challenge as dealing with your own. Sometimes even harder.

As the bystander, I wrestle with what they wrestle with. Not because I have great empathy, no… because I feel it too. I have sat with girls with unexpected pregnancies, close friends who lost fathers and husbands. I’ve journeyed with the abused and the forgotten, the angry and the broken. You can’t really follow Jesus and avoid these things.

So when the wave comes, not for me, but the one standing close to me… I have a choice to make. Do I quickly run to shore and make sure I’m protected first? Or do I stand with them in the wave, knowing that the force that’s about to hit them, is going to hit me too?

Break my heart

We have this very human tendency to want to run away from sadness and heartache. With good reason too. It can be incredibly uncomfortable. And it is. Very much so actually. Self-preservation is a very natural human response, so it makes sense that when we feel too vulnerable, we want to preserve self.

When it comes to opening your heart to your neighbour, to feel what they feel, it can be tempting to switch into self-preservation mode. “This will hurt me, this will make it hard for me, I can’t.”

Now, there’s nothing wrong with taking a timeout when you need it and to operate in wisdom – more on this below. I do find it interesting that we sing songs and pray prayers like “break my heart for what breaks Yours”, and then be surprised when He does.

I have resolved within myself that I never want to be unmoved within the safety of His presence. My prayer, for the longest time, was for God to harden my heart, because it’s exhausting to feel so much. Over the years, it has changed to “Lord, let me feel it all.” I’m not afraid of the potential falling apart that might happen anymore.

Go where the grace is

Let me bring some balance. I am by no means saying open your heart to everything and everyone all of the time. Boundaries are important and so necessary. I don’t pray that prayer every moment of every day. There are times where honestly, and super practically, I actually need to function. When I am in a meeting at work, I pray for a protection over me for any spiritual atmospheres that may be represented, because I have no idea what walks into the room as others do.

There’s a time and a place, and the way you figure it out, is to go where the grace is.

Over the years, I’ve learned that there truly is grace when you’re in the will of God. When you’re walking where He’s leading, there will be capacity, time, wisdom… everything you need. However, when the grace lifts, it’s time to retreat.

When hard things feel easier than they should, you’re operating from a place of grace. It’s not because I am so amazing that I can stay in hard places sometimes, it’s because God has given me the grace to.

When it lifts, get out, and get out as quickly as you can. That’s when you get to see what you can do in your own capacity… and let me tell you from personal experience, it’s very humbling.

Grace for the journey means that the weight of the luggage doesn’t matter. But once you start feeling the bags eating into your shoulders and your feet start to drag, put it all down immediately and rest in the Lord.

There is a cost

It always amazes me that Jesus washed His disciples feet. He knew that in just a few hours they were all about to fall asleep when He needed them the most. Not to mention that Peter would deny Him publicly, and Judas would be the one to lead the guards right to Him. How do you wash the feet of betrayers? How do you come to serve people who you would do everything for, and in your one dire moment, they leave you hanging?

Love comes at a cost. Feeling, comes at a cost. Denying yourself, putting on compassion and serving, always comes at a cost. Love that is convenient is well, convenient. To love when it is inconvenient, when it means leaning into burdens that aren’t yours, regardless of whether the favour will ever be returned… that’s a Jesus-kind-of-love isn’t it?

Let me tell you though, the price is worth it. Every single time. I have often only realised this later, after much lamenting to the Lord. In the moment, I’ve found myself many times wrestling with God asking questions like, “why me God? You know this affects me more than others!” or “just let me not care! I don’t want to care!” and inevitably, we always come back to this: “but what about me?”

You will not go without

Oh my feely-friend… let me share a truth with you that I chew on daily.

He will not let you go without.

It’s almost easier to think of such a statement in the context of ‘stuff’. But will He meet every one of my emotional needs too? Will He show up, even if no one else does? And will I be taken care of as well, as I spend time taking care of others?

Feeling deeply, walking with the broken and being overwhelmed by oncoming waves can be exhausting and lonely. Not many people are surrounded by others who understand, or at least try to understand, what it feels like to constantly sift between what is yours and what is not.

God is so faithful to provide for every need you have. Even the need for a big hug or to laugh at something silly. He will not leave you, and He most certainly will never forsake you. If we remain focused on all the Father provides, we will never feel short-changed by life, thinking we’re missing out because we emptied our pockets in love for others.

Come alive

I want to leave you with much hope today.

Feeling with others… being in the waves with them, is a great honour and a privilege. It took me a long time to learn this.

When the world makes something (your emotions) out to be a negative thing your whole life, it’s hard not to think of it as a liability. It’s hard to not just look at the cost and the burdens and think you want nothing to do with this so-called “gift”. Let me tell you, when you start to embrace the gifts of God on your life, there is a part of you that starts to come alive.

The world needs you and your gift. There are things that you are picking up in people and areas around you that others might be missing. God is speaking to you. He is showing you secrets and wants to partner with you. God will not let you go into, or leave you places He hasn’t already created a way for you to thrive in.

And remember, when it feels like the cost is too much, pay it anyways. The beauty of Jesus on the other side of costly love is so worth it.

Take care of yourself!

How to grow as a feeler

  • Anchor yourself in who God is and not in how you feel – emotions can be overwhelming and defining, but we are defined by what God says about us, not how we feel. Feelings are important, but they make for shaky foundations.
  • When something feels off, ask God “Why am I feeling this way”, before embracing every emotion – trust me, not all of them need to be embraced. If God shows you, ask Him what you should do with it. Is it something to pray about, something to let go, or do you need to have a conversation with someone.
  • If you feel something, be quick to respond to the Lord. Don’t buy into the overly-emotional label – God made you WITH your emotions, which means you’re supposed to have them.
  • Have people in your life that can bring you back when the waves knock you around – it can be very difficult to sift through the noise, it helps to have wise counsel in your life who can help you figure out what’s going on when you’re not sure.
  • Pray until there’s joy – you’re not supposed to live an oppressed life – the gift of feeling can be perceived as a burdensome one. We’re not meant to carry the weight of the world, we partner with what God is showing us with the intention to bring a shift.

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