Originally published September 21, 2015.
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Jeff and I had a short, semi-loud fight Tuesday night.
For the printer.
But of course, it wasn’t about that.
It was about pride.
Fights are usually about pride, aren’t they?
I won’t go into details about the fight because as I said, it was short-lived and ridiculous. But at the end of it, Jeff curtly told me to stop being dramatic, which (of course) hurt my feelings.
In our family, calling someone dramatic is one of the biggest insults you can give. It gets all our attention, quickly.
And just in case you think I didn’t deserve it — that Jeff was a jerk — I did, and he wasn’t.
But regardless, his words shut me down.
My feelings were hurt.
Working to avoid saying something (who am I kidding — saying several things) I’d regret later, I walked to the back of the lake house to sort laundry. Semi-alone with my thoughts, and making sure not to knock the proverbial chip off my shoulder, I gave in to my swelling heart and misdirected passion, and silently, the tears fell.
Later in the week, Jeff and I were sitting and chatting at the kitchen table when I shared with him another entirely separate exchange (with someone else) that hurt my feelings.
(I have a lot of feelings, people.)
Jeff knows that a goal of mine over the past several years has been to gain tighter control over my emotions, which to some extent, I have. Or rather, I’ve learned to act, not react.
But the one thing I cannot get a handle on — something I have not been able to change about myself — is my immediate response when my feelings get hurt, which is crying.
Not the ugly cry, but tears … rolling down my face.
No matter how I try, I rarely escape it. It happens instantly. And it’s terribly embarrassing at times — especially since most things are not even important enough to mandate tears.
I cry or hold back tears all the time now. It’s ludicrous.
Jeff’s response was eye-opening for me. And I don’t know why that still surprises me because the man does have a fair amount of insight.
He asked: “So, it’s a release of what’s already there?”
And I cried.
What he said touched a chord in my heart, and I knew it to be true. And here is where I tell you something you may already know, but I can’t spare the chance that maybe you don’t:
When you pray that God will walk you through each day and show you His Truth, you need to receive it well when He delivers it.
Yes, even when — especially when — The Lord speaks directly through the mouth of your spouse.
It’s a lot to consider.
If your immediate “go to” response is hurt, you must take into account that the hurt doesn’t necessarily come from that particular person or circumstance. That the hurt may stem from the myriad of things you’re holding inside — things that you’ve not dealt with or haven’t given yourself permission to release.
That immediate hurt and the tears that follow may be a simple release valve for the pressure building up inside you.
And that makes sense.
Think about it. How else do you explain why some songs, quotes or movies that are completely unrelated to you make you weep, immediately?
Can you help or hold back the surge of emotion that you feel? Do you think about it or is it just there — an overflow?
So, if you’re holding something in, or you haven’t processed something, you have to ask yourself if you are avoiding a hard thing.
And if so, what is that hard thing?
Do you even know?
Maybe it’s a disappointment?
Or an unmet expectation?
Perhaps you need to forgive someone?
But here’s the most compelling question that flowed through that mental river of thoughts:
If all that muck resides in you, how can you live in peace and contentment?
I mean, if you have to guard yourself against bursting forth in tears, how can you embrace the gift of joy?
How can you be happy in the here and now with what the Lord has given you?
I had to ask myself that question. Even talk about it with Jeff.
And his response?
“You need scheduled emotional maintenance.”
He coupled it with a few analogies (because he is the king of analogies, after all).
One of them was a car. If you do not regularly schedule maintenance, the car will only take you so far before major issues crop up, and you can’t drive it at all.
But, if you take care to wash it, get the oil changed, check your fluids, belts, replace windshield wipers, watch the pressure in your tires — getting new ones when needed — your vehicle will function its best.
We all need scheduled maintenance to thrive, and for me, that means asking God daily to search my heart and mind for those lingering thoughts and hurts.
That’s where prayer journaling comes in.
In essence, you ask the Lord to be your release valve. And His Word provides the very words to begin:
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.”
Psalm 139:23 (NIV)
I have to do this.
Otherwise, I’ll break down on my faithsizing highway before I reach the place of complete peace and contentment.
And, I’ve already been on the shoulder of that road my fair share of times. It is exceptionally congested, what with all the other
people cars there.
I know I will still cry because my tears are not just for times when I feel hurt but also for just about every other emotion in my playbook.
- I cry during praise and worship at church. The words wash over me and through me, and I experience His joy, turn over my grief and recognize my desperate longing for the Lord (hence, the reason I always carry a handkerchief).
- I cry when people give me unexpected gifts, a sweet note, card, email, or even when I write posts like this one.
- I cry in the morning when it’s just me, Jesus, my prayer journal, and my Bible. I cry over answered prayers, my repeated failures, hurt in the lives of others, and when He gives me a Word so near and dear that it imprints on my heart.
But those aren’t the kind of tears that concern me.
The tears that wreak havoc come from my hurts wrapped up in a tight bundle of self-pity, which ties directly into my pride because…
“How dare anyone do [ fill in the blank ] to me?!”
If I’m not alone…
If you also detect those little emotional time bombs in your heart and mind, you’d better recognize them for what they are. Then, realize that if you don’t tend to them, they will detonate when you least expect it. Unfortunately, when that happens, it’ll destroy your joy and take down others around you.
Like your husband or your kids.
Over something silly like printer ink.
Praise the Lord, there is freedom in Christ but that freedom requires scheduled emotional maintenance and daily surrender.
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
James 4:7 (ESV)”
If you’ve never reaped the benefits of prayer journaling to the Lord…
Please accept my FREE gift to you below.
It is a short and simple beginner’s guide to prayer journaling. I even have an example in there of an entry of mine to provide some context.
It’s up to you.
Either way… Blessings!