Good morning, friends. I don’t typically put up more than one post a week, but today’s post is a special one.
Back in the early 2000’s I was at Nyack College studying Youth Ministry, Psychology, and Bible and became fiends with a guy named Mark Karris. We went through some classes together, went our separate ways, and then met back up on Facebook.
One thing I’ll always remember about Mark was a group activity we had to do in our “Christian Counseling” class. We broke up into groups of 2 and had to share some deep stuff with each other about our lives and then follow some steps from a book to navigate one another through whatever emotions came up.
I shared about my dad and some of the struggles that I was facing with him. My parents were still married at the time and things at home were so hard and so difficult and so overwhelming. What I remember is that when I shared my story with Mark, he kind of went “off script”. In other words, he didn’t really follow the steps in the book, but seemed to following the lead of Someone much greater.
He asked questions.
He listened to my answers.
He spoke from his heart.
… And his words just kind of hit home as he reminded me that I am a person who is loved by God and was created to do great things for His Kingdom.
I’ll always remember that.
Anyways, when we parted ways we were both trying to figure out what God wanted us to do with our lives and when we met back up I learned that Mark is a pastor as well as a licensed marriage and family therapist. He currently lives in Japan with his wife and new baby AND on top of all of that he wrote a book that releases TODAY.
And that’s why I’m writing this post. Mark sent me an advanced copy of his book and I’m about halfway through it. It’s called “Season of Heartbreak” and is for anyone and everyone who has ever experienced a LOSS in their life. It’s written (in particular) for the person who has experienced a break up …
The loss of a friend.
The loss of a relationship.
The loss of divorce.
… But even if you’ve never experienced that kind of loss, this book will speak to the places inside of you that are tired and scared and afraid and broken.
This isn’t the space for a full review, but I want to share one idea from his book that jumped out at me. Early on he talked about the idea of “emotions” and posed the question …
“What are emotions?”
Depending on what sphere of Christianity or religion or spirituality that you find yourself in, some might tell you that emotions are evil. Like, you should never EVER listen to them because they aren’t reliable, they aren’t helpful, and they aren’t accurate. Other people will tell you that emotions are EVERYTHING and that you should always (ALWAYS) listen to them, follow them, pay attention to them, and let them guide you.
I love how Mark answers the question …
Emotions may not always convey accurate information about objective truth, but they always point to valuable subjective truth within the individual.”
In other words, our emotions don’t need to lead us down the road of definitive conclusions about ourselves, about others, and about our lives.
Our emotions don't need to lead us down the road of definitive conclusions about ourselves. - Mark Karris #MorningEncouragementClick To Tweet
They can navigate us to places in our hearts and souls where we can learn more about ourselves and become more self aware people.
I haven’t experienced any kind of breakup in my life, but recently Dana and I had a baby and so our family has grown from 2 to 3. In addition to that, we’re getting ready to move to another state in the next few months. On top of that, I’ll be transferring to another Apple Store where I’ll probably be put into a different role than I’m in now. We’ll be going to a new church, meeting new friends, and living an entirely new and different life.
I guess you could say that at times it feels like I’m in a “Season of Heartbreak” where I’m breaking up with the way things have always been.
Does that make sense?
And so sometimes I’ll find myself overwhelmed with …
… And an entire mix of emotions that I don’t know what to do with. I love that Mark’s book reminded me that those emotions aren’t EVIL, but (at the same time) they aren’t so GOOD that they need to make definitive declarations about me and my life.
Like, just because I feel sad one day doesn’t me that I AM a sad person.
And just because I might feel angry tomorrow, that doesn’t mean that I AM an angry person.
Rather, when I realize that I’m sad or angry or whatever, I can bring those emotions before the Lord and ask Him what they’re all about knowing full well that He will help me realize their root, understand where they’re coming from, and (therefore) learn more about myself, my life, and the way I’m wired.
Today, for instance, I’m feeling particularly emotional. In thinking about all of the stuff I just mentioned above, I’m fighting back tears. The future feels so uncertain. Everything that has been certain for the past 15 years or so feels as if it’s changing and falling apart.
Even as I write that, my eyes are welling up with tears.
I’m not a big fan of change, it’s always been hard for me. And even though I know that this change is GOOD, it still feels like I’m breaking up with something that I love and care about deeply – life, and the way it is … and has been … for the last many, many years.
I’m not a sad person, though.
And I’m not an angry person.
I AM, however, a healthy person with healthy emotions, emotions that God has wired me with, emotions that (if I pay attention to and if I bring before Him), He can use to teach me more about myself and the person He created me to be.
The emotions I have aren’t definitions of Glenn, but they are descriptors of how I’m feeling and what I’m experiencing and can lead me further along the path of self-awareness.
Don’t ignore your emotions, but don’t bank everything on them, either. Instead, pay attention to them. Be aware of what you’re feeling throughout the course of the day and don’t be afraid to ask the question, “why am I feeling this way?” Or, “why did I respond to this situation like that? Where did that emotion come from? And why is it so strong?”
Ask those questions and bring them before the Lord and ask Him to take you deep into the answers so that you can become more self-aware – THAT is a healthy and good way to handle your emotions.
Head over to Amazon.com and get the book, you won’t be sorry.