Stop stuffing down your emotions, there’s no more room.
As usual, I’m preaching to myself, but my hope is that this helps you too!
I recently shared about how I’d been scared to write lately because I was afraid of the emotions that might come out.
Throughout my life I’ve experienced seasons when I feel emotionally strong and can handle anything and other seasons when I cry or freak out if the wind blows my bangs out of place.
Sometimes I just have a higher tolerance for dealing with the stuff that life throws my way. Can you relate?
As I’ve matured as a Christian woman I’ve realized that for me personally, my ability to handle adversity, stress, grief and let’s be honest….this crazy world and all the meanness in it….has to do with how much room for God’s peace, love and joy I have in my mind.
I’m focusing on my mind here because it’s the tool that God’s given me to choose how to respond. My heart knows what to do, but sometimes my mind makes itself up without enough thought and retaliates in situations where it should forgive. My mind shuts down instead of staying open. It obsesses over hurt instead of choosing love.
My heart and mind work better together when my mind has room to consider, to seek guidance and welcome the leading of the Holy Spirit.
But when it’s stuffed full of past hurts, frustrations, disappointments, worry and fear, there isn’t room for anything else.
Let Go and Let God
I’ve learned there is a difference between stuffing down my emotions and actually letting things go.
When you let go and let God, do you really let go? Or do you actually just tell God about it and wait for Him to respond or retaliate on your behalf?
I wanna suggest that if you’re waiting on Him to act on something you “let go” then you haven’t let it go. You know how I know? Because that’s a pattern I have.
I tend to stuff down my feelings and responses in situations when I’m angry or hurt. The Bible tells us to be slow to anger (James 1:19-20) and I’ve misinterpreted that to mean when you get angry hold it in.
There’s a nuance there…be slow to anger, don’t lash out at others, respond with love to those who hurt you, but you have to release that anger to God. Not at God, but to God.
Whether it’s anger or disappointment or stress or worry or fear or whatever, stuffing your emotions down isn’t healthy. Eventually there’s no more room to stuff and no matter what your heart wants, your mind will release all that emotion.
It might come out in a torrent of unexplainable tears or rage disproportionate to your current situation. But however it comes, it means that you’ve been holding onto all that stuff for way too long.
Relax and Release
But our Father who loves us tells us to give it all to Him. To fully release our cares, our anger, our grief, our everything to Him because He is strong enough to handle it We can let it go FULLY knowing that He will take care of it.
I can tell when I’m stuffing things down when I am holding my emotions in my body. I don’t know how to explain it exactly but I can feel it. In the moment or even days later, there is a heaviness in my heart, mind and physical body. I even forget sometimes what the thing was I stuffed down a few days earlier but I still feel it.
So here’s what I’ve started to do and I hope it helps you too.
Release it in the moment.
Talk to God in the moment.
Say “Father, right now I’m feeling ______ and I don’t want to stuff this down. I am releasing it to you. I won’t hold onto it, I trust You with it. I let go and choose to stop this emotion from having any control over my life. Instead I choose to live in this moment by the fruit of Your Spirit and move forward in peace, love and joy.”
You might have to say this prayer more than once. Sometimes I have to say it a few times before I really mean it.
But it works for me. Because He is always faithful when I seek to live by His Spirit and not by my feelings.
Do you find yourself stuffing down your emotions? What works for you?
Jamila is the founder of loved+blessed. On her personal mission to leave a legacy of encouragement, she blogs about her own life lessons with the hope that it will bring joy into others’ lives and help them find the courage to keep walking in faith knowing that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord. Read her testimony of how God turned her misery into ministry.