Gratitude of the day: Unseasonal heat here was interrupted this weekend by a bone-chilling return of winter almost, the days colored navy blue and gray, filled with silvery raindrops on blade and bush.
What do you do when negative thoughts and emotions slip or slam into you? Is it possible to deal with what comes by prayer, journaling, contact with the Shepherd of our souls? Maybe not every emotion but some of it for sure!
Compared to the complications of healing hormone systems, this seems like something that’s more in our control, to deal with our own emotions with compassion and a will to change and get to a better place. We become motivated when we learn how emotions can wreck our health or build it.
I’m excited to discover over the past few years some simple steps we can take to win out over negative thoughts and feelings. (Certainly that does not negate the need for professional help either, a real blessing at times.)
But it’s good to know that we don’t have to accept the stabbing pains and passively live with verbal barbs, misunderstanding, rejection, despair, depression that whirls on and on through our brains, destroying our joy and energy for a day, a week, or long time.
The first step is awareness. Whether my body lets me know there is a problem—like a backache or tense neck muscles—or just obsessive round after round of “he said/she said” lunacy or worries of “what if” is invading my peace, I need to notice what’s going on in my thoughts and body. It’s a gift, an opportunity to grow if I pay attention.
Next, I am learning to shepherd these emotions with my soul’s Shepherd, Jesus. I let Him know how I feel… in detail! I receive His perspective and compassion and give it to someone really needing it–me! When someone misunderstands me, rejects or seems to reject me…when what-if’s about the future try to overtake me, I name what I’m feeling. This helps me see what’s going on.
I’ve had many healing experiences that have built my trust in this faithful Shepherd to help me better handle my emotions. He is ever kind and welcomes my good and bad feelings to sort out with Him. With Him I don’t have to be sunny and upbeat every second. I can vent, cry, etc.
Last year on one of my less than stellar health days, battling thyroid and adrenal issues, someone hurt me deeply. I couldn’t get the negative conversation out of my head though I tried valiantly to carry on with the day’s tasks.
But my chest was aching. I had to stop and acknowledge that. I asked God to meet me right then and there.
Something good began to happen as I prayed and journaled about my negative thoughts and emotions—fear of rejection, despair, hungry need for this person’s approval. I wrote it all out. Relief unbound me. I realized that rejection happens, whether deserved or not. Maybe the other person had felt rejection…maybe from me!! Oh no, but so possible! So much unknown. And my flaws are so glaring, yet God sees all that and the gifts He has designed me to uniquely carry…and He still loves me, doesn’t reject me!
So I knew in that moment: I’m loved and loveable, accepted and acceptable, whether this other person can see it or not.
A narrow view of me that only sees my faults does not define me.
So I can and must let it go. I can’t make myself be accepted by another; it’s a gift…and with the unconditional love I receive from the Shepherd I can love again, whether it’s returned or not, free from expecting anything, free to love with His love that gives regardless. And there are some wonderful people in my life too who love me and I love them, no matter what!
I thought about how day after day God loves people, whether they acknowledge Him or not. He keeps right on making beautiful art with changing sky colors and different shapes of the moon. He lets me see little delights if I’m looking: our resident tree-bark lizard doing push-ups in the sun on the brick wall or a little girl brown-red cardinal hopping in the garden. He sends us blessings of people, food, shelter, friendship, even the unexpected smile of a stranger sometimes. So amazing.
Strength and joy returned. The weight on my chest disappeared, really and truly.
That’s part of health—not reeling away and sitting in a pond of Despond for days or weeks due to the bad and sad ways others may treat us, out of their own hurts and neglects, perhaps caused by us, perhaps not. Emotional health is about returning to joy and strength enough to own my own one and only life, not let it be ruined by a person or event no matter how tough it is.
… and by paying attention to the precious people in our lives that we see all the time..by opening our eyes and hearts to love and delight around us right here, right now. And also love the people who hurt us. Because we can do it, love with His love, when He heals the heart…when we shepherd our hearts, partnering with our Creator.
Free to love, to live, unfettered from fear and unforgiveness. I’m free to enjoy whatever is in front of me, not blind to pain or imperfection…aware of it all, good and bad. Naming and letting go of what doesn’t give me life and peace. Finding God’s perspective. Living loved and loving the best I can.
Ah! It’s time now to wander under rain-drenched trees and cut and lightly clutch a few yellow roses.
To carry a bit of outdoors in.