Tag Archives: feelings

Living in Paradox

fireworks

Another goodbye. How appropriate. Who knew, after writing my last blog, that I would have yet one more goodbye to say? And a biggie, at that…

This time, to my son and precious new daughter-in-law who left for Idaho a couple of weeks ago after a job transfer. After only a two and a half weeks’ notice. After buckets of tears from yours truly.

They will no longer be able to pop over anytime for dinner, jacuzzi, and Amaretto Cherry Cordial ice cream nights. They will not be here for most birthdays, holidays, and nothing-going-on-days. They won’t be coming over to watch the house when we go on vacation and make sure Bella doesn’t pee in dad’s office.

But they are flying – completely out on their own with no parent-strings attached. They are taking chances, risking a ton, and experiencing life to the max. They are excited, happy and optimistic.    truck

Yes. My heart is on the floor. Beyond sad and grieving.

And yet, my heart is so proud. Thankful and happy!

A little schizophrenic, huh? A good friend recently asked me how I was doing with all of this. I was almost embarrassed to answer because, well, I’m all over the place – feeling feelings that shouldn’t coexist…

As if because I’m sad, I can’t also be happy…as if to be in mourning means I can’t be thankful…as if to feel discouraged means I’ve lost all hope…

I’m pretty sure that’s a form of legalism.

We buy into the lie that we’re not really being honest with ourselves if we have feelings and thoughts that are polar opposites of each other. (Either that or we think we’ve finally gone nuts.)

We believe stuff like:

If we’re angry, then we’re not really operating out of love or trusting God.
If we’re sad, that means we don’t see a bright side.
If we’re discouraged, then we’re not really thankful.
If we want something, then we aren’t truly content with what we have.

Sometimes those things are true. But who says we can’t also live with diametrically opposing feelings?

Somehow we’ve bought into the idea that two conflicting experiences cannot cohabitate.

My all-too-often disarrayed soul begs to differ. I call it living in paradox.

Paradox: a statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet is perhaps true. (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary)

Yup. I think we live in dichotomous, parallel truths more often than we realize. For instance:

  • I am thankful to be in school. I cannot WAIT for it to be over with.
  • I am beyond angry, sick, and frustrated at an injustice my girlfriend has been going through the last two years. I trust God to work it all for good and am happy for all He has given her.
  • I am disgusted with our political environment and am even more sickened with how some of us “Christ-followers” are behaving in the midst of it. I am so grateful to live in this still-super-awesome country and still believe in the church.

I wonder what living in paradox might mean for you right now…

I know someone who had to give a much-loved foster child back to a mom who’s really trying to get her life back together. And someone else who felt relief that their loved one wasn’t suffering anymore but also experienced incredible distress at the loss. Talk about conflicting feelings.

The problem isn’t living in paradox; it’s not acknowledging its existence.

When we engage in “black or white” or “either/or” thinking we discount feelings. We minimize. We dismiss. Or think we’re crazy.

But embracing that there are two opposite sides to the same coin is very freeing.

Because then we accept. Open up. Relax.

If you’re all over the place too, you’re in good company. Maybe realizing it and giving ourselves a break is the sanest, most productive thing we can do.

Personally, I’m into sanity. See you in paradox.
Sherri-sig-png7

 

When Colors Collide

watercolors

My colors collided. Again.

I didn’t even realize it; never saw it coming.

That’s what happens when you keep painting and painting and painting… never rinsing out your brush. Never acknowledging each individual color for the beautiful contribution that it is.

Because each color serves a purpose, you know. Each one is necessary to complete the overall picture.

And I’m not talking paint, by the way. These “colors” are what I use to refer to as feelings. So, for instance, yellow would obviously be a happy feeling. Dark blue, not so much. Red? I’m thinking anger, right? Green… hm, maybe greed. Or perhaps envy. And orange, I think I’ll assign that as thankful. There are so many more…

I remember as a little girl having a watercolor set with a variety of eight colors and a thin, nylon paintbrush that was so flimsy, you couldn’t paint a pin-straight line with it to save your life. (Not to mention the brush hairs that kept coming out and sticking to your precious art piece. Fun memories.)

Nevertheless, I loved to paint and was always excited when it was art time in grammar school. It was even more exciting when my watercolors were brand-new. Each color looked perfect in its oval bed, not yet tainted by my incredibly artistic talent. But, alas, before I knew it, I would be painting away…first green, then yellow, maybe brown, then midnight blue…and it wouldn’t be long before those colors weren’t so vibrant anymore. Or individual.

I have to tell you, as a former, professional second-grade watercolor painter, it’s a disaster when your colors all start to blend together because you went a little overkill on the water usage. And never rinsed out your brush after dealing with each individual color.

You no longer recognize each color for what it is. It all becomes one dark, murky-gray puddle.

And even more, it means you can no longer use each color individually, brushing their unique essences on just the right spot of your canvas so that they each work in perfect harmony with one another. Complementing each another. Making the bigger picture.

Kinda like our feelings.

The last six months, there have been so many highs and lows, I couldn’t even tell you… one yellow, the next dark blue…then orange, and a few times green…I got so busy trying to cope with all of life’s colors the “Christian” way that I crashed the other day. Hit a wall – big time. All of the ups and downs, so many of them – too many of them – collided together and became one dark, gloomy mess.

So, what do I mean by the “Christian” way? Reading my Bible. Reading devotionals. Memorizing Scripture. Listening to Podcasts or watching Beth Moore on Wednesday’s with Beth. Praying. Fasting. Letting things go. Forgiving. Moving on. Forgetting what lies behind. All the prudent things any serious Christ follower would do.

But…can it ever be too much? Or better yet, can the “Christian” way ever be a way to avoid – so you don’t have to deal with all your colors?

I was talking to a good friend of mine. She told me to hang in there. Christ’s power is in me – use it. Don’t let the enemy get to me. Don’t give up.

What an amazing friend. And I agree with her! But I have to be honest. Those words just bounced off of me like a rubber ball off that same grammar school blacktop I used to paint at. I couldn’t “do” anymore. I had been frantically doing so much ‘Christian way’ stuff to keep me going, I wasn’t addressing all my colors.

I ignored my feelings – good and bad – so I could press on and, in wanting to do things the “right” way, not hurt this person with my red color. Or make that person mad with my green color. Or that person jealous with my yellow one.

I fell right into the trap of legalism; legalism that says you shouldn’t feel bad if you’re a Christian. Legalism that says you shouldn’t feel too good if you’re a Christian. Legalism that says denying yourself means denying the very essence of who you are – human. Body, spirit, mind, and emotions. Legalism that says you can’t feel opposite feelings at the same time; like you can’t be thankful and angry simultaneously.

I beg to differ. Right now, I am very angry at some things and extremely thankful for others.

So, amongst my many musings over the last few days, I came to a conclusion:

The problem isn’t having all of those feelings at the same time; it’s believing the lie that it’s either impossible to have them all at once or wrong to have them at all. And when we buy into that trap, we stuff. We deny. And all our colors start bleeding together, creating nothing more than indistinguishable and unusable chaos.

Since I have finally come to the end of myself, (yet one more time), I’ve been thinking. It would have been so much better – and right – for me to, instead of hiding behind religiosity, acknowledge each colorful feeling for what it was, talk about it and be okay with it. In fact, if I read my Bible correctly, confessing and dealing with truth are also part of the Christian way.

I’ve also been reminded that each color – every feeling, every experience – will be perfectly placed on the canvas of my life by the great Master Artist himself to create a good and beautiful overall picture.

Each color has a place in my life. Each one will serve a good purpose. Because God said so.

I’m starting to separate my colors, one by one. (Yes, you can do that with a make-believe watercolor tray.) For starters, I dumped on my husband. (Don’t worry, he’s pretty friggin’ awesome and has learned how to handle me by now.) I also dumped on a few other pretty cool family members and friends – letting it all out. I’m going back through many of the experiences of the last six months and processing how I’ve felt about them. How I still feel about them.

I’m already feeling a little less gray, although I’m not completely there yet; wherever the heck “there” is.

I humbly accept your prayers. (After all, we should never really do away with the Christian way.)