Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c) 2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries
Somehow, I am sure the lead singer of Maroon Five was not expecting to change someone’s life that day.
My life was spent believing it is wrong to have or express emotions, especially strong ones. That does not mean I never showed them, but simply much less often than I felt them. Guilt and shame for letting people see this weakness – having emotions – was constant.
Smiling at a stranger or telling a friend I care felt awkward and out-of-place. Helpful gestures, done in genuine compassion, laid me out afterward with self-doubt. Was it appropriate to show empathy? Anger and hurt were reasons to beat myself up for days, weeks, and years for having dared.
Life experience helped me learn some social “rules,” and Christ Jesus changed my scarred heart to a compassionate one. Still, showing emotion was shaky ground.
One hides from life when emotions are thought bad and shameful. Even emotive vocabulary escaped my attention. What was obvious to others, I often missed.
After a mass shooting, reporters announced that counselors had arrived on the scene. Shocked, I thought, why would anyone need that? How can it be ok to say such a thing in public? Those survivors must be humiliated.
Eventually, pent-up emotions landed me in the hospital for major depression.
Enter Adam Levine
Coaches on the TV singing contest, “The Voice,” taught performers to use what I thought was a voice inflection skill. What else could they mean by instructing contestants to inject emotion into their vocals?
One day, I heard Adam Levine say emotions are why people make and listen to music. I stared in wonder. People want to feel? He just said that aloud?
Therapists had been slowly unveiling emotions to me and my right to express them for about two years. The Levine epiphany made me simultaneously excited and embarrassed. The world appreciates music for the feelings it generates and no one is ashamed of it. Had I been living under a rock?
At first, checking for emotions in any given moment seemed childish. Noticing a stiff back, racing heart, shaking, and other physical red flags, I learned to ask what was going on emotionally. Naming anger, fear, disappointment, or any feeling as the cause, allowed me to question why.
Aware now of what most emotions are trying to tell me, facing situations instead of running away brings healing. Resolutions replace resignation. Acceptance abolishes avoidance. Expression erases exile.
Emotions are welcome although not always pleasant visitors. Temptation to hide is stronger than I at times. Mental muscles stretch when I take feelings to God and to supportive friends. Having barely crawled out from under that rock with my life, it is good to know there is more on the outside.
If you can relate, there is hope for joy. God’s love is eternal and unconditional. Given time and wise support, it is possible to learn how to love yourself, emotions and all.
Today’s Helpful Word
“Why am I so sad? Why am I so troubled? I will put my hope in God, and once again I will praise him, my savior and my God.”
***COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.
NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.