Expressing negative emotions

I’m a sensitive person in more ways than one. Perhaps my deafness has made me more aware of my physical environment than most. My brain is a constant tumble of observations, thoughts, feelings, and intuitions. If I’m not careful, I can quickly collapse under the weight of what I perceive in my environment, in myself, and in others.

One day when I read the Bible story about Jesus turning water into wine, an insight from the story helped me in an unexpected way. Here is part of the story from John 2:

On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

John 2: 1-5 ESV

When the wedding guests ran out of wine, Mary approached Jesus about the dilemma. She simply stated “They have no wine.”

She didn’t elaborate on how she felt, and how everybody else at the wedding felt, and what a disaster this event was shaping up to be. She framed her need in a few short words, and it was enough.

They have no wine.

I’ve thought of this story so many times this past year. There are times when many words are therapeutic and helpful. But often when I feel on the verge of a meltdown, distilling what I need into a simple statement helps quiet my brain and heart.

For example, when I come home drained from all the sickness and suffering at work and find out that one child forgot to feed the chickens, another child decorated her crib with a sharpie (WHERE did she find my carefully hidden Sharpie?), the cat got into the house and left a smelly present on the new rug, a letter from an angry blog reader came in the mail, and the laundry pile magically grew another six feet, I want to drown in despair. Instead of deteriorating into a grouchy self-loathing mess, it helps me to take a deep breath and say, “I feel overwhelmed.”

When people are unkind, I don’t have to detail their sins in a torrent of thoughts or words. I don’t have to examine or re-examine why they might have done wrong, and how I am or am not at fault. Discussing other people’s failings and rationalizing my own leaves me with a yucky, dissatisfied sense of both remorse and revenge. Instead of getting caught up in endless drama, I can simply say, “that hurt my feelings.”

Being a woman, wife, mom, writer, and nurse is a lot for one little person like me. I often am plagued by thoughts that I can’t do any of it well. I have only one lifetime to get it right. When those thoughts come and I feel my chest tighten, I’ve learned to say, “I feel anxious.”

Those are examples of some of the statements I use the most. I can’t fully explain why using a direct statement to express my situation has helped me so much, but it has.

When I interact this way, nobody has to guess what I’m thinking or feeling. The kids don’t have to worry that mom hates them because she’s upset about that letter or tired of cleaning sharpie marks. My husband doesn’t have to wonder what he can do to help. Nobody has to be afraid that I am manipulating them to get what I want, because being direct cancels the need for manipulation.

Learning that negative emotions aren’t terrible boogymen that I need to avoid at all costs, I’m finding that Jesus does listen to my heartfelt needs. Whether I descend into an incoherent babble or distill my words into a clear statement, He listens. Expressing them with a heart of childlike trust does far more good than shaming myself into being quiet.

For myself, I find peace in being able to come to Him knowing I don’t have to explain it all.

They have no wine is all it takes for Jesus to understand and work a miracle.


15 thoughts on “Expressing negative emotions

  1. Victoria

    This is beautiful Ro! So often I elaborate and go on and on and on. But it’s so incredibly comforting that we can just come to Jesus and simply say what is up. I read this story recently too and I was so astounded how she just went and told the servants to do whatever Jesus told them to. Even after he told her his time wasn’t come yet. I love that. She tells him the problem and then tells others just to do whatever he says about it. Such a beautiful raw faith. This post was good for me to read today, as they always are. Blessings on your day! I love you sis!

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    1. It’s perfectly okay to use lots of words sometimes too! It’s just easier for me to process stuff if I don’t overcomplicate it. 😁 And yes, so much to love about that story!

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  2. Rosina,
    You are peace, you are joy you are the sweet and kind Christian that listens to the Holy Spirit and obeys the still small voice. I am drawn to your wisdom as it is obvious in your posts that you are filled with the Holy Spirit and not seeking the approval of man. I am not surprised by the negative letters from your blog followers. You speak absolute truth from your active relationship with Jesus and that will always offend the world. Thank you for your life giving posts that are pure and refreshing.
    -Julie

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    1. Thank you, Julie. ❤️ By far the bulk of feedback that I’ve gotten about my blog has been positive. I don’t know why I get discouraged by the dissenters. I know that living in the Spirit is scary and threatening to some, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world! Thank you for your kind words here. ❤️

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  3. Kathy

    Thank you for this. We are currently going through a difficult church experience, and I find myself with an avalanche of thoughts and emotions so often. I need to remember to simplify what I’m feeling. Good reminder!

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  4. Barbara

    And I find overwhelm often comes at the end of the week (for me at least) Somewhere I picked up the need for EVERYTHING to be neat and clean for Sunday… Things are going good at the beginning but somehow Friday and Saturday things are way out of shape. This week we had cold and snow so the tubs of ashes have piled up and I need to empty them at my sons farm today so I don’t run out of tubs.(and it’s only me and my special daughter who needs my help) It always works out but some things slide by. Keeping right priorities isn’t always easy but I am thankful for HIS love and provision. Thanks for your encouraging words.

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  5. Jackie

    This is a helpful idea. I think I will try it. Summing up the effect, rather than enumerating all the ways we have been wronged/burdened/frustrated, makes it easier for those close to us to understand and help us right away. And then we can elaborate later if it’s necessary.

    Also, Motsenbocker’s Lift Off is marvelous for removing Sharpie marks from walls and finished wood surfaces. (You didn’t ask, but it’s been a great discovery for me.)

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  6. Faith

    When people are unkind, I don’t have to detail their sins in a torrent of thoughts or words. I don’t have to examine or re-examine why they might have done wrong, and how I am or am not at fault. Discussing other people’s failings and rationalizing my own leaves me with a yucky, dissatisfied sense of both remorse and revenge. Instead of getting caught up in endless drama, I can simply say, “that hurt my feelings.”

    This spoke volumes to me! Thank you!

    Like

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