For most of my life as a Christian, I've been taught that negative emotions are untrustworthy little critters. Heck, I've even taught that very concept on numerous occasions.
Crippling, negative feelings like disappointment, anger, unforgiveness, insecurity, sadness…..they should be wrangled to the ground, pushed to the side, ignored, rebuked, and then have the truth declared and beaten over them until something shifts.
(Repeat as many times as necessary until YOU take responsibility for changing your heart….more than likely, seventy-times-seven….gazillion).
The problem with this approach to the very REAL emotions floating around inside of your heart is this:
a) You're completely denying the reality of how your heart really feels….
b) You're trying to change your heart with your own power–leaving little room for God to come in and transform from the inside-out through His grace.
A few weeks ago, I felt like I'd reached my capacity to deal with tough emotions that accompanied the days as they seemed to crumble around me. Old wounds from an old and significant relationship kept leaving my heart in shambles, debilitating morning sickness kept me in bed a majority of the day and night, another friend found it necessary to accuse me of hostility when I had had none, a book deadline with a new publisher kept creeping closer (with no book written), and the one-year anniversary of my daughter's death was fast approaching—bringing with it a tumble-cycle of erupting sadness, loss, disappointment, snot, and tears.
Needless to say, the hurricane around my life beat at the door of my heart, threatening to destroy anything that wasn't anchored to truth.
Just as I heard my heart whisper inside, “Father, I just can't handle anymore conflict, disappointment, death, or accusation today,” the email came.
After Goldie passed last year and I got to work—on a mission to declare the goodness of God in the midst of horrible tragedy—speaking invites began to roll in from all over the world. But one invite in particular was especially exciting, giving me the opportunity to stand in front of over 10,000 women at a single event, putting me on a speaker roster with some of my greatest heroes. I remember sitting in Starbucks the day the request came in, crying at the redemption of God and how excited my heart was to stand in front of so many beautiful people, working with the Holy Spirit to empower them back into intimacy with this GOOD God who heals every wound.
However, the email I got that day let me know that wouldn't be happening.
God had been prompting the leadership of this church in a new direction, with the pastor's wife needing to release a message over the conference (a woman I HIGHLY admire and respect), with a lot of confirmation from the Holy Spirit on many sides. As I read the words, letting me know that one of the conferences I had been most excited about all year didn't need me or my message anymore, I paused, closed my eyes, and listened to my heart.
And my heart was undeniably, overwhelmingly…..disappointed.
You see, old Christa would have thought the overwhelming disappointment I felt was a sign of insecurity, weakness, and a lack of spiritual maturity. Surely spiritually mature people don't get disappointed, especially if God is the one orchestrating the shift! Old Christa would have pushed the disappointment aside, stuffed it way down, put on a good face to everyone, and pretended like it didn't rattle me for a second. But those old behaviors were never a true picture of the pain digging deep inside my heart.
And I'm definitely not old Christa anymore. I'm the Christa who has had learned to bring every heart emotion into relationship with Jesus.
I laid in bed that day, closed my computer, and rolled over into sobs, throwing my heart around the disappointment that kept piling up around me that week. I felt the Comforter come and put His arms around me, pulling me in close. I could feel Jesus laying in front of me, His eyes in tears, crying that His best friend was hurt and disappointed.
If it matters to you—-it matters to Him, friend.
I felt the kiss of Father on my head—perfectly wrapped in a cocoon of the Trinity—the safest place I could ever be.
For over an hour we talked and cried as my heart invited the Safe Ones into the very real disappointment of my heart. I didn't deny my emotion—I simply let God into it with me. The Counselor began to speak up, reminding me that He orchestrates my steps and my ministry. Jesus kept cracking jokes about my snot, and I'd break up my tears with a giggle. Father's presence held me close, and in this presence, there was no shame for my disappointment, no scowls or expectation to change how I felt. I had full permission to be disappointed—knowing that disappointment didn't negate the fact that I trusted His decision to bench me on this event. Both extremes could exist inside of one another. I wasn't disappointed in Gateway, their leadership, or the Holy Spirit who had led them to make this decision.
I was simply disappointed that I wasn't getting to speak at Pink Impact. And that was and is…..entirely permissible.
You see, dear friends, how many times over the course of our lives have we denied the truth of our heart's cry to try and become something we're not—yet? Father isn't asking you to change yourself—He's asking to be invited into the middle of everything you already are, standing in relationship, power, counsel, love and grace as your heart transforms into His greatest masterpiece through relationship, friendship, and intimacy.
And after 37-years of life, I'm finally learning to do this every, single day.
I check in with my heart, doing a reality scan. Am I feeling overwhelmed, insecure, sad? Am I feeling angry, disconnected, or broken? There's always a root of pain behind every one of those emotions—and they don't just go away on their own. Instead of denying the truth of how I really feel, I've learned this year to simply confess it and invite a GREATER truth into the mess, knowing pain doesn't heal itself.
If those emotions exist, I usually need a heart-Healer.
And as I uncover my heart and lay it before my King, unashamed at the tattered mess and rumbling emotions, He breathes such life into the corridors. He revives, restores, tills the soil of my heart—removing the thorns and thistles. He reminds me of the truth, and I declare what He's told me—simply coming into agreement with His words about me.
Beloved—you have permission to feel. Don't deny your heart's cries anymore, pushing them aside. The root of all negative emotion is always pain…..so wouldn't it make more sense to own the feelings, get the root of pain healed, and watch as that healing brings about peace, joy, life, love, and hope?
I don't pray for fame….I pray for influence, so naturally, I'm disappointed that I'm not going to get to stand on stage in front of 10,000 women at Pink Impact and impart the message I carry. But that disappointment pales in comparison to the HOPE I've found in relationship with the Trinity. And because I didn't give that disappointment the opportunity to move into bitterness, anger, or resentment, it won't have the chance to poison my heart.
If you were going to Pink Impact to hear me, I would REALLY REALLY REALLY encourage you to go! I would if I could! The lineup of women speakers is unreal—there's going to be so much breakthrough, healing, and LIFE released at that conference! I adore Gateway Church and what they carry—& Robert and Debbie Morris will always be some of my favorites!
Huge blessings today, dear friends. Thank you for joining me in my journey of healing….through the good, the bad, and the ugly that Father keeps loving into something beautiful. (: