Is It OK To Hurt?

Nobody panic! I’m actually doing ok at the moment. Though there are often times when I’m not, I seem to have the clarity now to look back at one of my darkest times four months ago.

Even if I’m exhausted or in more pain I go to church whether that be our café in the week or on a Sunday and it makes me feel better. Either the worship lifts me or the sermon is exactly what I need to hear or I have the privilege of helping with our preschool Sunday School. I come home feeling lifted both physically and spiritually. However at my darkest time this wasn’t the case. I was angry, I had no idea why and I would struggle to hold myself together whether that be bursting into tears or throttling someone. I would wrestle with myself for the two hours I was there falling deeper and deeper into my darkness before I could run from the building and the people that care about me most. Why hadn’t it worked? Church usually made me feel better. But going to church, fellowship, is not a magic pill to make you feel better, yes it should be a time to strengthen you but I was using it as an easy pick me up without addressing my real issues and working through my pain. I felt ashamed because I should be happy and grateful and that’s definitely not how I felt.

Now most of you know about that dark time as that’s around when I started this blog so we don’t need to go further into it but in the (slightly) more stable place that I find myself now I have the clarity to ask ‘is it ok to hurt?’. Actually I can answer to all of you who ask this ‘yes it is’.

Part of the reason I am in this place physically is because I suppressed my emotions. I didn’t validate them I just stuffed them as far down as possible and that’s not healthy. No it’s not healthy to be negative and angry all the time but if we process these emotions we are experiencing then we can then let them go. I couldn’t understand why I got ill because I actually wasn’t that stressed at vet school (even though most people had their opinions). I was doing what I loved. But years and years of unhealthy coping mechanisms had trapped so many emotions within me that they have physically damaged my body and this was my body’s and God’s way of telling me it’s time to stop, time to change.

These things take time to change as they’re often something we’ve done for a long time. There is also the fear that once we open that Pandora’s box, that’s it, which is where I have struggled. That’s the beginning process, the hardest bit. Once you start taking down that Dam there is no stopping the initial surge of emotions. I went from having no emotions whatsoever to literally crying at anything. I still struggle with trying to suppress it. Those thoughts of ‘don’t be silly’ or my favourite ‘you have no right to feel that’. I’m scared of what will happen if I don’t suppress it. (I cried watching the rugby earlier in the year because it was near the end of the game and the players looked tired!? Hard to think you’re not loosing your mind right?)

God has brought me to a place of awareness and maybe a bit more understanding of why I am here and how to move forward. It’s ok not to be ok. The more you believe and embrace you’ll begin to notice that your ‘bad’ days become less frequent. Yes we are saved and loved and whole and that’s wonderful and we should dance and sing God’s praises but it is unrealistic to think we won’t have down times, difficulties and God doesn’t expect anything else. God the Father grieves (Genesis 6:5-6), the Holy Spirit grieves (Isaiah 63:10) and Jesus even wept with grief (John 11:35). It’s good to feel. Our emotions shouldn’t be immovable forces taking over our lives they should naturally ebb and flow like the sea.

I just want you to know it’s ok to not be ok. Judging yourself for it, not letting yourself feel it or trying to soldier on will just make you feel worse and believe me the further you walk down that path the harder it is to get back. But you can get back, however far you’ve gone and however long you’ve been doing it. It’s not easy but isn’t it wonderful to know that your not the one who has to do the hard work. I prayed not for God to take away my pains but for the wisdom to understand and process them. He has taken my hand and is slowly guiding me opening my eyes to myself and I’m just along for the ride, all I have to do is let him.

There is a whole flipping book on Lamentations in the bible! And many of the Psalmists lament so why are we so convinced it’s not ok? Lamenting is not moaning it’s letting God know we are hurting and that we truly need his help. When I first became a Christian that was the only time I truly heard from God, when I hit rock bottom and thought there was no way back, I’d come to the end of my resources and that’s when I’d finally let go and let God take the reins. Yes we want to praise God for everything he has done but he also wants to know that we need him. It’s ok to feel negative emotions, but we can feel them, learn from them and then let them go in a way that they actually strengthen us and mould us for the better not slowly destroy us.

I will just give you an example in case you’re still not convinced.

When I was little I used to give my emotions complete free reign and I’ve always been a bit of a hot head. (My namesake Megan Follows in Anne of Green Gables smash a slate over Gilbert Blythe’s head kind of hot head (Favourite book ever!!!way better than any tv adaptation) Anyway). I slowly taught myself that it wasn’t ok to be angry, I had no right to be angry over something and that I should be ashamed of myself for being angry. This lead to when I started to feel the anger rising an internal wrestling match between the anger and guilt. Generally the guilt would win eventually but I would surge between one and the other until I felt so bad about myself that I would end up isolating myself for hours sometimes days. Just in case it’s not really obvious that’s not healthy. When I first started trying to analyse my emotions I was so blinded that I could understand why I was feeling this way and then I would get angry because I was stupid and couldn’t work it out. So that’s a bit better but still not good. I’m now at a point where most of the time I can pause after I feel angry and ask God to show me why I am feeling this. Then I can look at my emotions and the situation as an interested observer rather than being completely taken over by it. I can see ‘oh I feel angry because of this that and the other, why does that hurt me?’ The biggest thing is not automatically thinking I’m being irrational but validating myself so I can then let it go and learn from it and move on. (Every so often I just let rip and let my anger blaze but I’m trying not to judge myself for these hiccups either)

Another example is actually about grief. When my Grandpa died, although I wasn’t a Christian then, I prayed that I would be the one to be with him when it happened, not my Mum or my Sister, because I was stronger (oh how little I knew) and I could deal with it better. I wouldn’t let myself grieve, tried not to cry at the funeral because as far as I was concerned Mum was the only one who had the right to grieve because it was her Dad. This was the beginning of the end of my emotional suppression phase as I finally broke weeks later when I was back at uni and ended up crying so much and couldn’t stop it. (I actually called my Dad because my face was leaking and wouldn’t stop!) Now in this place I can grieve because God would want me to. I grieved when we lost Richard at our church from Cancer even though I’d only know him for a short time, I grieved the other week when my Nan broke her hip and I was scared she was too frail to come back from it. I grieved because these feelings are valid and then I could carry on.

They say that no one can hurt you because only you control how you react to things which is true but that doesn’t mean that you feel nothing and if you do that’s a failure on your part. It’s ok to be sad. It’s ok to be angry, to grieve, to be scared. Share it with God, share it with a friend or a family member or even just writing it down can bring us insight and clarity to our situation as I do here in this blog.

Need God in the good times and the bad, he is always with you, he understands what your feeling and why even if you don’t. But you can. Let God teach you about yourself. Be interested in yourself not ashamed. You are so very loved by the God who knows you the most.

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