Saturday, August 13, 2011

Brighter Days Ahead

I'll tell you how the sun rose
a ribbon at a time.

~Emily Dickinson

Isn’t it good to know that day always follows night? That winter’s icy blasts always give way to the freshness of spring? Joy comes after sorrow. You’ve come a long way on your heart healing journey from breaking up to brighter days ahead.

In the darkness you were releasing—grieving losses, healing emotional pain, and discovering the power of forgiveness as you learned to experience God’s love in deeper ways.

In the dawn you were renewing—learning to wait well, awakening hope and restoring your confidence and self esteem, knowing that you really are worth being loved well.

Now it is day, and you are rebuilding—waking up to the rest of your life, finding purpose and vision, and learning to make healthier choices in relationships next time.

Healing is coming and bit by bit, you’re not so affected by the breakup anymore. Even the shape of your life is changing. The physician-poet Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “The mind, once expanded to the dimension s of larger ideas, never returns to its original size.” I believe the same is true of love. The heart, once expanded to encompass the breadth of love, is never the same again.

You have changed. And, like re-growth comes after a forest fire, restoration comes after a breakup too. Ruin can be restored. Your past will always be a part of who you are; history happened. But as you walk forward by faith, you discover new companions, like inner strength and unexpected joy. Hope arises. Things start to get better.

Surprisingly, the human heart is quite flexible and resilient; it has the ability to bounce back from difficulties. But you’re really not bouncing “back,” you’re bouncing forward—from darkness to light, deadness to life, brokenness to greater wholeness, fear to courage, and so much more.

God is all about transformation. “I will guide you,” He says Isaiah 42:16, “I will turn darkness into light before you and make the rough places smooth.”

It’s time to live in the light.

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

Psalm 90:14

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

After a Breakup: Why Deal With Emotions?

Dealing with emotions is essential to your emotional, physical, and spiritual health. But many people don’t always want to face how they’re feeling. Here are a few reasons why:

You don’t think it matters.

You’re confused by how you’re feeling and don’t know how to handle it.

You know what to do, but you don’t want to go there.

You fear what others will think.

Or, you may feel like you will look weak or stupid, even to yourself.

Yet there is immense value in dealing with your stuff. While your relationship may be over, your life isn’t. It’s time to get some life back into your life!

In fact, identifying, expressing and releasing emotions are essential because the emotion itself isn’t that important. It’s what you do with it that matters. Left untreated or unexpressed, emotional pain can wreak havoc in your love life. You may sabotage a perfectly food relationship because of your own commitment fears. Or, you may withhold affection and trust because others have wounded you deeply.

The good news is you can get rid of emotional pain. In time, night will give way to day, and then a brand new day—your new beginning!

Identifying emotions
Tracy had been walking in a cloud of depression for weeks. Even the daylight felt dim to her. After her breakup with Daniel she felt like she was in a fog of sadness. But what she didn’t know was that hidden beneath her melancholy mood was a boatload of anger.

When she finally talked with a Christian counselor she learned that instead of expressing her anger, Tracy was turning it inward toward herself and it was leading to her depression.

As a child, Tracy had observed other family members getting extremely out of control with their tempers—it was actually rage, but she didn’t know that then. So she decided she would never get angry; she didn’t want to be like them. So she stuffed it all inside and thought she was doing the right thing.

Once she identified the emotion of anger, and learned that there was a range of emotions (like the range from a mere annoyance to anger to full blown rage) Tracy could acknowledge that emotion and learn to express it in healthy ways.

A social worker friend of mine uses tools like pictures or photographs of people that display various emotions to help clients identify and then work through their feelings.

Journaling can also be helpful. As you write about what’s happening in your life because of the breakup, certain themes may emerge. Even if they don’t, you can get closer to acknowledging how you feel and what could be causing you to feel that way by writing in a notebook or journal: “I feel __ when ___ happens.” For example, I feel hurt when he lies to me. I feel deceived because she went out with him behind my back.