Recently I’ve been thinking about what it means to get along with one another, how much we should express our feelings, and how much we should keep them to ourselves to keep the peace. Emotions are a good thing; they help us to know how we are, to take our psychological temperature, to work out how we should respond. They are a gift from God.
They can also get us into hot water if we are prone to always responding based on how we feel; a step back, a deep breath, a filtering of what is going to be helpful, can all be positive ways of making our emotions work for us. And when it comes to situations and subjects we feel strongly about, these can be the techniques that help us through with our dignity and integrity intact.
But can it ever be good to let rip, to let our gut feeling do the talking, to allow our emotional response to be wild and free. Because maybe this is how injustice is named and tackled, maybe it’s how oppression is highlighted, maybe it’s how all sorts of bad stuff is named and shamed. What if that’s what it takes, but because we’re all so busy counting to ten and being self-controlled those things that are dark and secret stay that way. And this ‘what if...’ isn’t the same as the ‘what if…’ of regret, of rewinding to opportunities missed, things left unsaid, amends left unmade. It’s a gutsy ‘what if...’, not a nostalgic murmur. Because our emotions are good, they’re a gift from God, and like all gifts we need to use them.
What are the things of the world that really bother you, that get your heart pumping, that make you know you’re alive. It’s these things that help us to focus our emotions into bringing change, not just to the world around us, but also to our own lives. If your situation is difficult, or dire, listen to how you feel and work out what can be done to bring calm and contentment. Even when we’re low, and anxious, we can do something, however small, to tip the balance, and that something could be telling the person we disagree with how we feel. How we really feel, not the toned down polite version.
Part of how we negotiate the stuff of life is by not carrying around the luggage of unexpressed emotions, which can weigh us down and make us feel like somehow, we are of less value than others because the burden of that weight can block us from the joy of life. So, work out how to let your feelings show, not in a flood but a stream which brings life to you and helps others know your role in life isn’t to carry the expectations and feelings of others, but to be yourself, made by God with the beautiful technicolour of emotions.