`Let Yourself Feel
Sometimes you just need to listen to sad songs.
It's true. There are seasons in our life when we just need to put on a playlist of the dearest and saddest songs we can think of and let it play.
I've discovered that as long as I know that the playlist will end and I don't need to keep listening longer than I need to, it's pretty cathartic to let the sad songs in for a while and just feel sad.
While reflecting on this practice I've adopted, I realized how I generally process feelings like sadness, which led to a significant revelation I'd like to share in part.
Because of what I do for a living, I often need to compartmentalize emotions, to put them away until I have the space to deal with them.
One example of this was when I sat in a meeting in my office talking about youth ministry issues, just a couple of hours removed from holding a church member's head up in the emergency room as he was choking on blood.
That kind of whiplash is rare, but there are many other moments when I don't have the headspace to deal with my emotions when feeling them, so I have to put them somewhere until I can.
Here's where it gets tricky, though. It never ends well if I don't re-open the compartments and deal with those feelings.
Which is why I listen to sad songs sometimes. Or angry songs. Or songs that are full of joy. Because when I let the sadness in or allow myself to feel angry, hurt, and afraid (in healthy ways), I can feel those feelings, ponder them, work through them, and relearn that I am not my feelings.
Mind you, this is my process. Yours may be different, but there may be something in this that many of us need to hear.
Most of us do the whole compartmentalizing thing but keep the compartments closed. God knows, I still do more often than not. We put away our hurts, sadness, pain, anger, and all the other emotions we experience, and we soldier on like nothing happened.
Only they generally find their way out on their own, and never in a good way.
Jesus had a teaching that he offered to his followers on this very thing. He told them to let their "yes be yes," and their "no be no," which was an indirect way of saying, "let your inside match your outside."
So, if you are sad, let yourself be sad. If you are angry, let it in. Let yourself feel it all if you are hurt, wounded, grieving, or bitter. And let yourself feel happy when it comes, too.
Know that it's okay, not to be okay, if you're not okay.
And if you need to create a playlist of sad songs, do that, too. Let it play; know you don't need to stay in that space when it's over. You can feel sad without being sad if that makes sense.
Allow yourself to deal with your emotions in healthy, life-giving ways that lead to wholeness. Let your "yes be yes," and your "no be no."
Like me, you may not always do this well, and there will be imperfect moments in your journey, but as you stumble forward, keep stumbling in the right direction.
May it be so for you, me, and all of us. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.