Aug 17, 2017
We all have gifts and abilities, but with every gift and ability come areas of vulnerability and weakness. While it is easy for me to celebrate my gifts and demonstrate my abilities, accepting my vulnerabilities and acknowledging my weaknesses can be a little more difficult. However, as I've grown older and hopefully wiser, I am becoming more comfortable with dealing with the areas of my life that show I'm only human and therefore more relatable.
One such area that I have been aware of for a very long time, but which I periodically tried to ignore, is my emotions. I like the fact that at times my emotions feel intense. When that happens that usually inspires me towards an outlet of creativity and passionate expression. Nevertheless there is also a vulnerability to intense emotions and I like to call it "emotional quicksand". When you think of quicksand, you think of something to avoid because one wrong move and you'll find yourself being swallowed up. While I have never actually seen quicksand, nor am I adventurous enough to want to do so, I do stumble into emotional quicksand more times than I care to admit. Here are some lessons I have learned about emotional quicksand and how to avoid its trap.
An Open Door
I look back on the times I felt that I was in a place of emotional quicksand and I have often wondered, "How did I get here?" Through times of self-reflection I have come to see that my descent into emotional quicksand first required me to open a door. And through a perfectly-timed challenge from a friend, I saw that my open door was discouragement. I am not talking about discouragement with others, but about personal discouragement. I may feel discouraged because I didn't meet my own expectations or I failed yet again in a work project or a personal goal, etc. And when those thoughts and feelings of disappointment and failure begin to take root in my mind, then discouragement isn't too far behind. I now acknowledge that discouragement is an area of vulnerability for me and if taken too far, it can turn into a weakness. Through both personal and spiritual growth, I am much more aware of the times when discouragement comes knocking at the door and have become better equipped not to answer it. You may be asking, "How do you not open the door?" For me, discouragement comes from a place of entertaining thoughts and feelings that are true because I feel them. However, I am now aware that they don't always reflect truth. So I have learned, and perhaps you have too, that those thoughts and feelings become a lot less tempting to hold onto when processed through the filter of God's Word and among close friends that I trust and feel safe with.
Feed the Funk
There are times when I don't always process those thoughts and feelings well and actually encourage them to grow. In essence, I feed the funk. This can be hard for me to accept because it means that I really want to stay in the quicksand even though I find myself being slowly swallowed up by it. Unfortunately the more I sink, the harder it is to reach out for help and rescue. I have also found that feeding the funk can be comfortable because it is a habit that I have held onto, nurtured and grown old with. It was important for me to remember that just because it is part of who I was, it does not mean it has to be part of who I am today or who I am becoming. Once again you may ask, "How do you not feed the funk?" I have learned that the solution is not starvation but a change in diet. For me, a new diet consists of several things. It starts off with the usual basic step of going back to God's Word because it is full of truth and promises. I need to meditate on His truth that keeps me from sinking further down, and it is His promises that provide the help and rescue that I so desperately need during those times. At the same time, I have also learned that I need to be open with safe friends and mentors who speak into my life and call out the "bad diet".
In closing, think of who your friends and mentors are that love you enough to point out your open doors so that you can avoid emotional quicksand, and who then point you to God's Word so as to avoid "bad diets". While we may not want to recognize our vulnerabilities or areas of weakness, let's allow God to work in them and bring His healing and wholeness into those aspects of our lives. Whether it is through our gifts or in spite of our weaknesses, He gets all the glory.