Women are emotional. We feel everything strongly – good and bad. That’s not because we’re hysterical, it’s because we were designed that way! We were made to be sensitive to the needs of others, to empathise with their situation, and to follow our innate and burning desire to do everything we can to help them. Our sensitivity is an incredible gift! But it also leaves us vulnerable.
When it comes to our own troubles we tell ourselves, and each other, that emotional pain is to be avoided. We go for the very British ‘stiff upper lip’, and convince ourselves that if we ignore the anguish for long enough it’ll simply disappear. But by blocking out the pain we deprive ourselves of half of life.
Living, I mean really living, is standing firm in the bad times as well as the good: not being knocked down by the blows life gives, but not running in the other direction either. Becoming the people God intends us to be means learning from our mistakes and being formed by the way we deal with hard times.
For the past few weeks I’ve been working through Katrina J Zeno’s book ‘Discovering the Feminine Genius’ with two of my closest friends and accountability partners. In this week’s chapter we came across this quote, which completely took me back.
“So please, even though it hurts, don’t be afraid of the pain. It’s the Divine Artist’s tool to carve in you more room for himself, to prepare the bridal chamber.”
As a teenager I loathed the feeling of vulnerability. Not being in control utterly terrified me. I closed myself off from everyone around me and convinced myself that I knew best, that I could cope on my own, that I wasn’t bothered by whatever happened to me. I grew numb to pain, and numb to happiness as a consequence – because I learned that you can’t block one without the other. But I’ll tell you a secret…
I’ve grown to love the feeling of desperation!
Why? Because it’s in the moments that I feel completely empty that I’m the most open to be filled up by the Spirit. The times I've stood with my arms thrown wide in worship, exhausted, weak and utterly desperate, are the times I’ve felt most alive. When I have nothing left to give, there's no limit to what I can receive. The heaviest burdens provide the best opportunities to let Jesus carry them.
‘The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.’ Psalm 34:18
So I urge you not to be afraid of the pain. Don’t run from the hard times, or try to deny your emotions. Stand still, and stand strong. Allow yourself to feel, because it’s not a sign of weakness! You were created for union, communion and love, and with that comes rejection, confusion and suffering. In order to experience the first three in all their fullness you must also be open to the others. After all, if it weren’t for suffering, how would we know what joy or freedom were?