Do you ever have one of those weeks where it just seems like the Lord is picking at something? Through different conversations or situations, you feel a light being shined on parts of your heart or mind that you weren’t quite ready to confront? Or circumstances keep pointing back to this one decision that you know you have to make or thing you have to do?
A few weeks ago, I had one of those weeks. I’m not a very emotional person and, honestly, I spend a great deal of my time ignoring my emotions. So, when someone asks me questions about my emotions, confusion is usually what I react with. But, after my initial bristling against the question, I tend to appreciate that someone had the courage and cared enough to ask me the questions even if they made me uncomfortable.
So, I want to ask you the same questions that this friend asked me. I hope and pray that you take the time to really thoughtfully consider these questions and see what answers you are able to come up with.
How do you feel?
This is always the question that I have to pause and think about before answering because I almost never have an answer ready to go. I haven’t taken the time to think about how I feel because feelings tend to get in the way of my productivity. Feelings can be distracting, exhausting, and even painful. And yet, I’m so grateful for the question, though it takes me a long time to form a correct response.
So, I want to ask you the same thing this friend asked me. How do you feel right now?
I’m not asking the coworker or church “how are you?” that is only looking for an “okay” or “good” so life can continue to move on. I’m asking you to look inside yourself and consider how you feel right now.
I’ll go first. I am tired and hungry, my back hurts, and I’m proud of myself for getting out of my bed this morning when I could’ve easily spent the day there. I’m celebrating the fact that I’m choosing health over depression and deciding to submit to the will of God even though I’m in an uncomfortable season. I’m actively seeking joy in the Lord right now, though that’s not my default setting.
What do you want?
This is another thing that I’m truly terrible at articulating. I’m grateful that I’m not the only one in this boat—there are many women out there who don’t know how to identify and articulate their wants for whatever reason. It’s like there’s this societal pressure that tells us that we shouldn’t want things and if we do want something we definitely shouldn’t express those wants to others. But how twisted is that logic?
So when this friend asked me what I wanted, I was unable to express my wants. I just sat there, shocked by the question, wondering what the correct answer to the question was. I wondered if I would be judged by what I wanted if I were able to figure it out and express it during those few seconds of silence he gave me in which to answer. I’m pretty sure I gave some generic and opaque answer just to keep the conversion moving, but that night I sat down and gave it some much-needed thought.
So, I want to ask you the same thing: what do you want?
This can be as big or as small as you want it to be. It could be those unspoken desires that reside deep within your heart or those dreams that you have that you’re too afraid to let into the light. They could be those things that God has placed into your heart or as small as your immediate want at this moment.
There are many things we want in our lives: I want to help people, start businesses, help non-profits do more good, and write tons of books. I want to share art with the world. I long to encourage and give a platform to those creatives who want it. More immediately, I want a burger for dinner and I want to spend the day aimlessly wandering around a museum instead of having to go to work tomorrow.
Are you a sad person?
This was probably the hardest question this friend asked me during this particular week. He looked at me and with nothing but kindness in his eyes asked if I was a sad person. He explained that he had seen a hint of sadness in my eyes since he met me and was trying to get at what was at the root of that.
I shrugged my shoulders and said “I don’t know,” wanting nothing more at that moment than to get the conversation onto some other topic and away from me and my emotions.
But the truth is that I probably am a pretty sad person. I tend to be pretty pessimistic and tend to doubt the goodness in the world or in people. My default is to see the worst first and then see the good later. I expect bad things to happen and am surprised when good comes my way; I always brace for the worst possible outcome and rarely get my hopes up. It’s a pretty sad way of living and I’m actively working to focus my attention on the Lord and embrace his joy as my strength.
What’s your worldview? Or what’s the prevailing emotion that you see in your life?
Just like the two previous questions, there is no right or wrong answer. My ask is that you would be as truthful as possible with yourself and with God. There’s no need to share this answer with anyone unless you want to. After all, God can’t bless who we pretend to be nor can he heal what we don’t reveal. So, let’s choose to take a good, hard look at ourselves and then invite God into whatever we find therein. After all, he loves us no matter what we find lurking in the depths of our hearts and minds.
I believe asking and answering questions like these thoughtfully and truthfully can provide God with a beautiful opportunity to heal, restore, comfort, and correct as necessary. I’m confident that we can experience a deeper level of his love, grace, and mercy when we open ourselves up to him honestly and without holding back.
Let’s try it today and see what happens.
How often do you take the time to ask yourself some tough questions?
How have you experienced God’s grace after examining your heart and mind?
To go Deeper: Are You Happy? , Blazing the Trail of Vulnerability