Feel Your Feelings


As soon as I got into the car I knew it was coming. In life, no one gets a reprieve from disappointment and trials. That just comes with the territory. Even with all the victory this world and eternity has to offer already in our hands, our feelings can still make a mess of things. I had done so well all night. I went to church and smiled at all the mama’s and babies, and pastors, and visitors. I went to dinner with friends, and I made sure to laugh at all the right parts, reminding myself several times not to sulk through the meal. But once I was alone in my car there was no stopping it. I had been let down, and I couldn’t stuff it away. I cried the whole way home. I sobbed so hard at some points I thought I might need to pull over. The whole time I was kicking myself, “This is such a stupid reason to cry.” 

Even now I’m aware that it was something so small. Yet so small made me refuse the consolation of friends. So small made me barely want to pray. So small that when I burst into tears I was irate with myself. I reminded myself to grow up, because I couldn’t keep solving things with tears. But disappointment never seems to wane once it’s set in, not without some divine intervention, especially with someone who feels as fiercely as I do. I began to pray, and through all the tears and fuss I was making I heard the soft voice of God say, “Chloe, I understand.”

“Jesus wept.” That was my senior quote in high school. I think everyone knew I would use a verse. They kept asking me which I would pick and every time this was my reply. At first, I was being sarcastic, but eventually I said it in truth. It’s one of the instances where I relate to Him the most. Resident weeper over here. Even so, there was something deeper. Jesus knew when He found Lazarus dead that God could raise Him. But when He prayed, He acknowledged that He only spoke aloud for the benefit of those witnessing. I think it’s the same with His tears. Jesus wanted us to bear witness: it’s not the end of the world to feel your feelings, even when you have full assurance that everything will be alright in the end.

When disappointment comes, we turn to self-soothing, and self-care. Someone I know put our approach to self-care into perspective for me. “Is eating a whole pizza and pacifying your mind with Netflix really self-care? Sounds more like self-abuse.” So why do we do it? Why do we mistreat ourselves and call it love? It could be the fruit of a lie we believe that says feeling the full breadth and width of our emotions is wrong. There’s nothing wrong with self-care when done well, and there are ways to take care of ourselves without abusing our body and neglecting our mind. But I think the major key here is inviting the Lord who cares for us first and best into the conversation without faking it in front of Him like He didn’t make us emotive creatures. We shouldn’t allow our emotions to steer us by any stretch, but stuffing our feelings can be just as dangerous as letting them take the reins.

I keep thinking being twenty is about learning how to become a woman. My imagination of a woman so far has been someone who always stands unafraid of the tsunami headed her way, and sure as hell doesn’t bat an eye at trials. Some lady who’s got control of her hair and her taxes. But the more I try to force myself into that mold, the more dissatisfied I become. While the solution may not be crying into a blow horn and feeling all my feels at everyone else’s expense, it certainly isn’t being ashamed of crying in the car either. We can’t help our feelings, but we can help where we put them. We can choose to take heart when we see trouble, rather than taking matters into our own hands and letting the world define what it looks like to care for ourselves.