We all go through stuff in life — the good, the bad, the ugly. Things change throughout the years — jobs, kids, parents, cities, friends — and it’s perceived that each of us simply moves from one scenario to another without much time taken to process our emotions and thoughts.
Now some of you may be drama kings and queens who verbalize and act out every feeling that comes up, however, I — on the other end of the spectrum — tend to contemplate internally, usually with journaling, or with a close friend. Or I just stuff all my emotions down inside and not deal with anything at all (eventually dealing with it later). But no matter how it’s done, we all have a need to process our emotions.
We all process things differently. Every loss, every job or school change, every move to another place or house, even promotions all require processing. There are times when we may deny or avoid processing, but eventually those emotions will come to the surface.
Robert has a saying he likes to share: “It’s normal to need ministry.” In other words, going for counseling or seeking wisdom from your pastor or someone in leadership should be seen as a normal part of our Christian life to help us process. We’re not meant to do walk alone and there’s nothing wrong with us if we ask for help, despite what stigma church culture has put on it. others can reveal our blind spots, cause us to be more objective, and be a listening shoulder when we need one.
Processing can take time. Sometimes years. But that’s okay. God’s not in a hurry.
When processing my father’s death, it actually took four years before I realized I was mad at God. (Anger is considered just the second stage in dealing with loss I found out.) Then just as I would make peace in my heart about his death, a new “section” of pain or anger would come up; like the ramifications of my son not having a grandfather, not having my dad around to share old memories, or — even now —watching my mother grow old alone.
There are levels of processing too. Countless times I’ve ministered to someone and they tell me, “I thought I’d dealt with this already!” Well, they had. Truly. However now it’s just a deeper level to get through. Years ago Father God gave me the example of an onion and how it has layers of skin on it. Processing events is simply taking off another layer of pain until it’s completely gone. And there’s no condemnation with this; different people process differently and everyone does so in their own timeframe.
So what’s my point? Process. Examine. Seek counsel. Try to see yourself and your circumstances objectively by mentally and emotionally removing yourself from the picture. Look at other views, look at all the emotions.
One of my favorite verses is 1 John 3:20: “For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart and knows all things.” Realize it’s okay to be in process. Life’s a journey, and the emotions we feel through the course of our lives are real and valid. Take time. Talk to a friend. Join a support group. Seek the Lord and His Word. Journal your questions, your misunderstandings, your pain and concerns. Stay in the process and grow through it!