As an Amish kid, I didn't really know what emotions were. As funny as that may sound, I know that many of you were raised in much the same way.
We were taught that emotions were bad, and to feel anything made us weird and wrong and bad. Stuff down your feelings to make sure that you never feel them, ignore your heart, and just use your head, they said.
Sound familiar? Let's start to destroy those lies today.
In the Amish culture that I grew up in, emotions were not valued very much. And this isn't limited to just the Amish, as it happens in homes of all different cultures all around the world. I know many of you know exactly what I'm talking about.
When I was younger, I was much more in touch with my heart. I was more sensitive, and more in tune with my feelings and my inner world. I was an easy crier.
But, then I got hurt. When I was around 10 or 12 years old, I decided that being emotionally sensitive was not worth the pain it caused. So I changed. I shut down most of my heart, and started living from my head.
"When everything below the neck is broken, we turn to intellect." - Wm. Paul Young
I used logic for everything. My brain was my savior. My intellect was the key to excelling in school. It helped me stand out.
And worse, this logic-based way of living was encouraged; by culture, by the school system, by everyone around me.
This article is an attempt to put into words the immense value of listening to your heart, and why going on this beautiful, often painful journey of wholeness and healing is so critical to our calling. I'm going on that journey right now; will you join me?
1. Pain always manifests itself
We all experience pain. It's a human thing. And pain unaddressed and unprocessed always shows up.
So we try to medicate our pain in an attempt to not feel it: pornography, overworking (guilty), busyness, shutting down emotionally, being overly social, isolating, eating, binge-watching, blasting our music. The list goes on.
But pain always, always manifests itself at some point in our lives.
A mentor recently advised me about pain. He said, "We can either have a little bit of pain right now and go after healing, or we can shut down the pain in return for a whole lot more pain later in our lives."
If we don't learn to process the pain of today, we're setting ourselves up to have more of it tomorrow.
| Pain perverts good things.
Pain can take things that are inherently good - like sex or work - and twist them into ugly, hurtful things. We use these things to escape the pain, to run away from feelings, and to avoid the awkward matters of the heart.
But avoidance is the opposite of feeling. Don't live a life trying to avoid pain. It will only bring you more of it.
Also, when we shut down our heart, we forfeit our ability to feel the positive emotions, as well as the negative ones. We don't get to pick which part of our heart to shut down.
It's all or nothing.
When we choose not to feel sadness, we can't feel true joy either. When we avoid pain, we also avoid great comfort. When we choose not to do something because of the fear of failure, we miss the chance to celebrate the success we might have had.
A great life will always involve risk; how much are you willing to take?
2. Wholeness launches you into your calling
If we aren't whole, healthy, and healed, it's likely that we have wrong thinking and wrong beliefs. And these wrong beliefs are holding us back from our calling.
If we think wrong, we'll never live strong. - Dale Partridge
Having unprocessed pain, bitterness, and brokenness in our hearts will only serve to derail us from the path we are meant to travel on. If we don't deal with those things now, we'll have to deal with them later, and it becomes harder the longer we delay.
Shawn Bolz says that "Your beliefs will either limit or launch you." How many of us are being limited because of our beliefs?
By continually running from issues of the heart, we are running further away from the solution, which is to seek help in community, relationships, and vulnerability.
Wholeness is when the truth and nature of your being matches your being.
3. Isolation is your worst enemy
Humans are meant to live open and unashamed, in community, in honest vulnerability.
But the voice in our head tells us otherwise. It says: "they will judge you. They won't like you. They'll laugh at you. Nobody can know about your struggles."
That's the lying, stealing voice of shame. It's not actually your voice. You don't have to believe it. Be the boss of that stupid voice in your head. You are in control.
Real breakthrough only comes in community, when we are stripped of our secrets and stolen away from the brick walls we've put up to protect ourselves.
We can't come to healing alone. Telling our secrets is essential. Get rid of your secrets. Their weight isn't yours to carry. I wrote an article some time ago that will help you in practicing vulnerability. Read that here.
You have to risk in relationships. It's unavoidable.
Be brave. I believe in you. Do you?
Practical Next Steps
Know this one thing: It's good to go on the journey of healing and wholeness. It's good! It will be painful. It will be painful. But you have people in your life who want to help you. Don't do it alone. Fight shame. Don't listen to the voice in your head; it's not you.
I believe in you. Now go!