I’ve been thinking a lot about a balanced life in these weird days we are in. Normally, I am so busy that I don’t have to deal much with my own feelings. I can sort of ignore them and move along. Busy little bee. But, lately, my feeling are right in my face. And, to be honest, I’m not really a fan. Feelings can be sort of exhausting. Anybody?
Today, I was on a WOG (that’s a walk/jog, which consisted mostly of walking). And, I was thinking so much of Anne Frank. I read her Diary of a Young Girl last year for the first time since high school. Somehow reading it as an adult impacted me even more. And, now in this weird time of quasi-quarantine, I can’t imagine how she did it. How did she not go outside for almost 2 years? How did she survive and not get to feel the sunshine? How did she live in a tiny cramped attic with all those people? How did she deal with the fear of her loved ones and even herself being shipped away to concentration camps, murdered, and killed? I have to say that I honestly can’t imagine.
One thing that I took away from the book was the thought of “sharing your pain” in whatever season you are in. Anne knew that there were others going thru much harder things than she was, (even though her pain was exceptionally hard) but she still journaled her pain. She still felt that it was valid to share with her journal. Often, as humans we quantify our pain and say it’s either “not big enough to share” or “too big to share”.
I have felt BOTH of those in my life. Pain that feels too big to share. Pain that feels too small to share.
But, I think mental health is often a box for me. A 4 Square Life. I’m not an artist, but it was good for me to draw out what I’m thinking/feeling/doing.
For me, God’s PROMISES are the base. If the base doesn’t exist, I have no foundation. The whole square crumbles. I have to be sure God’s promises are readily in my mind. Every day.
My Feelings are both sides of my box.
Positive feelings must be accompanied with thankfulness. Positive feelings are also real and vulnerable. My life is open to attack from the side if I don’t build my thankfulness wall (my positive feelings wall).
Negative feelings make up my other side. They are also real and vulnerable. And must be shared, journaled, and dealt with. Otherwise my life is open to attack. If I think my hard time is too small to share or feel, I open myself up a barrage of feelings maybe tomorrow, maybe a year from now. I can open myself up to a flood of feelings I haven’t felt, or dealt with. Negative feelings still exist even if we ignore them. We must NAME them to manage them. (Isn’t that what Mr. Rodgers said.) If we are feelers…which we ALL are (We sometimes just ignore them)..we have to deal with both sides of the coin. The positive AND the negative feelings. You are allowed to feel that things are hard, even if your hard is way less than someone else’s hard.
But we (and I) have to be aware to build both of our walls. Not only our positive wall, and not only our negative wall. But BOTH.
And, on top of my box is Data/Facts. It is important to know what’s happening in our world. Some data/facts are positive. Some are negative. Facts exist. And are important to protect myself from living in the circle of DENIAL. Which is not a part of the 4 square life.
Neither is ANGER or JUDGEMENT. That is not a part of the 4 square life. (Yes, there is justified anger. I’m talking anger that roots from pride.)
And, lastly FEAR. Fear is not a bubble that can co-exist in a 4 square life. It’s an outlier. It is not our friend. It’s not my friend.
I’m blogging this not to say, “I have life figured out.” I’m blogging this to say that I’m learning. Learning to accept feelings. To move through them. To keep God’s Promises as my base. And to try to throw off fear, denial, and pride. Those so easily tangle me up.
We are all a work in progress. And, these days are teaching us so many things. I don’t want to forget what I’m learning. How God is teaching me. And how to become more balanced in conflict and crisis.