“Speaking the truth in love.” Ephesians 4:15 (NIV)
When I am hurting, the worse thing a friend can do is either dismiss my feelings or judge them. The second worse thing one can do is invite them to escalate and control me. Emotions shouldn’t be dismissed or judged; they are real and need to be acknowledged and understood. At the same time, emotions may not be rooted in truth and may have formed because of faulty perceptions. When our feelings are consuming or trapping us, we need to identify the thoughts and perceptions that trigger our emotions. Emotions need to be addressed whether they appear right or wrong, healthy or unhealthy. Some emotions can not be prayed away. When you pray for a release, and they remain, redirect your prayer on how to respectfully communicate your emotions.
I recently discovered this ugly tendency of not expressing my emotions. I was hurt because a friend was unable to attend specific events I hosted throughout the year. Each time he wasn’t able to attend, I communicated that these were important to me. Yet, what I wasn’t saying was that I was hurt when he didn’t show up. I was withholding my hurt. Withholding blocked my friend from understanding my heart and realizing I had been hurt.
Unfortunately, withheld emotions when triggered, explode like dynamite ignited by a match. My eruption contained unkind and judgmental words. Now not one, but two people were wounded. I still shudder recalling what happened. Even so, I’m determined to learn from this episode the danger of hiding hurt. A simple statement of, “I am hurt and feel unsupported when you don’t attend my meetings” would have been a pathway inviting understanding and healing. Open sharing would have given my friend a picture into my heart and opened a door to understand the challenges my friend faced in not being able to attend.
I think when God came searching for Adam after his disobedience in the Garden, God was really asking Adam to come clean with his feelings and his actions. Like Adam I hid my emotions and let them fester until accusations and judgments poured out. I’m thankful for a dear friend, who instead of retaliating was able to communicate his hurt and open the door to explore mine.
Father, help me not to hide my emotions, dismiss them, or be ruled and consumed by them. Empower me to live honestly before you, others and myself. Give me grace to speak the truth in love.
When is withholding unhealthy? Dishonest? Deceitful?
What’s the difference in withholding hurt and withholding judgement?
Thoughts to Ponder
Emotions not faced are not conquered. You don’t have to agree with your emotions or those of others, you do have to face them in God’s strength.
Quote to Consider
The void created by the failure to communicate is soon filled with poison, drivel, and misrepresentation.
C. Northcote Parkinson