I’m reading through an interesting book right now about simplifying our lives. I say “interesting” because it has some very good points … aaaaaand also some weird ones (think: Marie Kondo’s book about talking to your belongings). I’m only about half-way through the book at this point. What I’ve appreciated so far is that it goes beyond “this is how you fold your clothes” or “here’s how to get rid of the excess.” It gets down to the nitty gritty, down to more of the heart and roots of our struggles with excess: why we shop, why we keep all-the-things, why we struggle with letting go, why we feel guilty (about keeping or getting rid of things), why why why. It deals a lot with our why so we can address it, work through it, and move forward. The book is called, “Soulful Simplicity: How living with less can lead to so much more” by Courtney Carver (creator of Project 333 and author of the blog bemorewithless.com).
Anyway, I didn’t mean to go into all of what the book is about, hahaha! I just wanted to give a little backdrop to the main point of the post. 😉
I was reading Soulful Simplicity this morning, and as I reached the bottom of page 56, I read a quote by Brene’ Brown that stopped me dead in my tracks,
We cannot selectively numb emotions; when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.
I can’t stop replaying this quote over and over and over in my mind.
The author goes on to say,
When I heard those words [by Brene’ Brown] for the first time at an event in 2012, I thought, ‘Oh, so that’s where the joy went.’ I was numbing that too.
Confession: I can relate.
Friends, it has been some pretty tough few years here in our home. We have done well overall; we’ve pushed through, persevered, and endured a lot of heartache and struggles. Not that things have been impossible or joyless, but the road has definitely been a rough one, in general.
We have struggled with some of the children in our home (our foster kiddos and our own), we’ve experienced loss of family and friends moving very far away, we’ve had some new and ongoing health issues (glaucoma, spina bifida, cysts, broken bones, stitches, sleep apnea, surgeries, just to name a few), we’ve had some highs and lows in our marriage, and we’ve experienced saying “no” to adopting two little girls at two different times (to be forthright, I still struggle with feeling guilty, even though I know it was “best” for our family). There are other things as well, but these seem to overshadow most of it.
With these big challenges come big emotions. Quite honestly, I’m not sure I’ve worked through or even felt those big emotions. After reading Brene’ Brown’s quote, I’m beginning to think that I’m numbing the hard ones, thereby numbing them all. Pure joy that used to just flow out of me like a beautiful running river seems to have dried up, or slowed to a trickling stream. Though I can smile and laugh with the best of ’em, it drains me. It simply doesn’t feel “natural” like it did most of my life.
It’s as if I’m carrying around a shield that I’ve put up around me. Perhaps it’s to create a barrier between my experiences and my heart. I don’t want to let anything in or out. Protected. Safe. Numb. But, that shield is crystal clear, so I get and give the illusion that I am fully present and experiencing and feeling it all. Yet, I can’t help but sense something’s missing, or out of touch. I might even use the word “distant.”
I don’t have the answers, as this is something I am just now processing. I really don’t think I knew I was (or could be) numbing much of my emotions. I do know I like to be emotionally rock solid. Stable. Secure. Even keel. No drama. I don’t like the mess. So, I shove down many of the messier emotions.
Where has that lead me?
I think I’ve numbed and/or denied the full range of emotions of our journey. Now, please know I’m not cold-hearted, not at all … but I do get a sense that there’s a dullness to the world around me. I want the colors to be bright and vivid, once again.
Perhaps that’s where my surroundings are beginning to reflect what’s within me. The excess, the clutter, the chaos … I often feel junky inside. If someone comes to my home, I quickly shove any mess into my room or garage and pile the papers in my closet. I give the illusion that everything is clean or orderly. Yet, I know the truth. The mess wasn’t cleaned up or dealt with, it was just transferred to a new location so no one would know or see it.
Just as I listed above, I long to be light, free, and open. Nothing weighing me down. Uncluttered, both physically and emotionally.
I don’t know what the next steps will be in this process, how I will begin to feel what I’ve numbed (the good and the bad), or when I’ll feel “normal” again. I’m not depressed or anything, I’m just … here. Going through the motions, feeling a bit bland. I do experience being sad and glad and mad and afraid and all of those emotions, but, they’re all just a bit, dulled.
I’m ready to discover the deeply rooted answer to this very big question … “Where did my joy go?”
Lord, open the eyes of my heart to see what You want me to see. Help me to feel what I should feel and let go what I need to let go. Give me insight and understanding into how I’ve numbed the pain, thereby numbing the joy. I don’t want to live a dull life. Bring back the vibrancy, the full and abundant life! Break down the walls I’ve built up and expose the rawness that makes me, me. I know it will be painful to work through and I’ll feel very vulnerable, but I want to be all of who You’ve created me to be. I desire to walk the journey You’ve lead me to walk, including all of those emotions that come with it. Good. Bad. Ugly. Help me to trust. I want to feel and experience the emotions, but not be ruled by them. Lead me in Your Truth. In the power of Your Name, Jesus, Amen.
To God be the Glory!