Last summer our family made the trek to Yellowstone. No trip to Yellowstone would be complete without witnessing the phenomenon that is Old Faithful. As we pulled into the parking lot, we saw the crowd drawing closer to the geyser, alerting us that the time was close for it to shoot into the air. We had made it just in time. The park service predicts the time of each eruption and we happened to make it within minutes of their prediction.
If only my emotions had this sort of schedule. If only I could predict when they will bubble to the surface. When they will shoot into the atmosphere with such force. I should be able to predict a little better than I do, but that old crotchedy miser I call Denial trips me up every time.
Denial keeps me from addressing my sadness over losses or disappointments. Denial whisks me away with distractions, good and bad. Denial tells me numbness is contentment. Basically denial is a big, fat troublemaker.
If it weren’t for Denial, I might be able to see the signs of my untended emotions, the bubbling at the surface before the whole thing blows. I might be able to see the slow decay of my broken heart wanting so desperately to be healed. I might be able to see that the numbness I am feeling is actually due to a spiritual malady.
A spiritual sickness. That’s my problem lately. I have chosen to ignore my sadness over certain life issues that I have been dealing with for years because I am weary. I want them fixed. Now. And when I don’t see progress, I turn to Self. I can fix it. God is obviously not doing enough, so I’ll take all of my burdens and hoist them onto my shoulders and head on down the road. As I walk along, I pick up all the things I think will make me feel good.
But they don’t make me feel good. Instead, they leave me wanting. And my broken heart starts to crumble even more. I keep hiking down that road until I get into enough pain. Only then do I stop and drop to my knees and allow the tears to form. Only then do I realize that the only thing I need to deny is Self.
Today, I got into enough pain where I had to call mySelf out and let God step in. I didn’t really want to, to be honest. I wanted to continue picking up more feel-good things. But I could see the writing on the wall, and through an honest conversation with a friend, the cleansing tears made my life’s picture even clearer. So once again, I had to admit that I am not God, and that my God, the true God, is the only way out of this mess I’ve gotten myself into. Yes, I may still struggle with the lack of healing in certain areas of my life, but if I can muster up even the slightest bit of faith that God will carry me and care for me, the emotions can have their place in my life without becoming a spectacle every time they show themselves.
When I start to trust God again, to acknowledge that he is there, has been there, waiting for me, waiting to hold me and comfort me, then I find the space in which to feel again. And surprisingly it feels good to feel again, even if the feeling is pain. When God is in control, I no longer have to push down all my fears. I no longer have to wait until I get to a point of bubbling over from the heat building inside me. Not every emotion has to end like Old Faithful. Instead, when I am in God’s hands, I am more like a flowing river, sometimes hitting rocks and producing rapids and other times flowing over smooth stones and into serenity. That sounds more like the emotional life I’m after.