I pride myself on coping. Maybe I shouldn’t, but I do. When life gets tough, I’m pretty good at managing it. I’m self aware, so I can normally sense what is happening as it happens. I’m not stupid, so I can piece together why I feel the way I do and I can normally make sense of situations. I’m a talker and a big thinker, so I process til the cows come home and then I’m normally okay. I think it’s a good thing to posses the above skills. Life isn’t perfect and it will inevitably have day to day problems and so honing the above skills probably wouldn’t go astray. However I think there is definitely a risk to becoming a pro coper.
Are you at all like me? I thought perhaps I was the most unique person in the world, and for sure, I am a bit weird and there’s definitely parts of me which are unlike anyone else (for example, I’m not remotely afraid of robbers of thiefs when I live alone – what girl is like that?) but I’m coming to realise more and more that people can identify with things I thought I was alone in. Are you an over-thinker and an under-feeler? I cringe at how bad the english is in that statement but still.
Sometimes, when life calls for it, I take a moment to sit somewhere, preferably a nice mix between sunshine and shade and I allow myself to feel. Whatever the feeling is, good or bad, I allow myself to feel it. Sometimes I write.. thoughts or feelings I never knew or really understood somehow form on the pages. Sometimes I sit and listen to some worship, and God speaks to me about hidden things. Sometimes.. I just kick off my shoes and curl up on a park bench and wait. Feel and wait. Wait and feel.
The problem with shutting yourself off to feelings isn’t actually that you shut yourself off to pain, it’s that you shut yourself off to beauty. By avoiding the painful emotions, you inevitably shun joy.
Life is a curious mix of heart aches and heart warming moments. Learn to love and live through both of them. To me, the highs in life are when you feel God leaning down on you and blowing you a sweet little kiss that seems to say ‘See how wonderful life can be’. The lows in life are when you feel God leaning down and almost literally embracing you saying ‘See how wonderful you are to me’. Both are extremely critical moments in life.
Please please please, give yourself permission to feel. Coping is a ridiculous notion. Don’t become good at coping. What a stupid skill.
“I believe that suffering is part of the narrative, and that nothing really good gets built when everything’s easy. I believe that loss and emptiness and confusion often give way to new fullness and wisdom.” Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet