In my last post, I wrote about being present. And in that post I was referring to being physically present in whatever moment you are in. Yet I’m realizing if we struggle to be present physically, how much more do we struggle to be present emotionally?
In this day and age it’s like we hardly know what it is to be present emotionally as we rarely have to be! With many of us carrying mobile devices in our purses or pocket, we are always simply a click or call away from someone or something else. If we’re lonely, we can call a friend. If we’re feeling awkward being caught “alone” we can look at pictures on our phone. If we’re down we can read a text or a blog or an email. And if you don’t carry a phone, almost all of us have instant access to the internet and the many places we can go to comfort a negative emotion we may be feeling.
A few weeks ago I was having a really low night. After being diagnosed with MS this fall, I continue to wrestle through this new reality of fatigue, sickness, doctors, and figuring out “the new me.”
In my pain, I sent a text message to a friend, sharing that I was really hurting. I knew she would quickly write back something scriptural to encourage me, some nugget of truth and then I would “feel better”. I was ready for her to “make me okay” but her response surprised and blessed me. She told me she loved me and cared about me so much and she would happily talk with me but she wanted me to cry out to Jesus first. She asked if I had prayed about how I was feeling yet?
That moment impacted me more than she will know as it was a solid reminder of the need to be present emotionally.
The truth is, none of us want to feel pain, hurt, or loneliness. In our flesh, we all run from that feeling. But so often rather than running to Jesus, we run to sin- sometimes the sin of avoidance, or denial and other times and oftentimes even more costly, the sin of gossip, coveting, lust, etc.
It seems harmless to avoid that painful emotion you just don’t want to feel. It seems “okay” to go on facebook rather than acknowledging the fact that you are really lonely. It feels fine to just ignore the anger or resentment that is building up and instead turn on the t.v.
But it’s anything but harmless. As we work with college students we see this lack of being present emotionally wreaking havoc on people’s hearts (as it does in all of our lives). What starts as loneliness creeps into pacifying pain with pornography, and results in people who are emotionally trashed, and so very absent from what they are really feeling and thinking. We don’t know how to thrive in the midst of pain because we often don’t have to.
I often think of David’s cry in Psalm 13:2 “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?” It is unknown the specific trial that David is facing when he writes this, but it is clear that he is emotionally present, wrestling through his pain. I challenge you to be the same, knowing that regardless of our present circumstances and the weight of our emotional pain we can rest secure in Christ. As Psalm 13 concludes in verse 5-6, “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise for He has been good to me.” AMEN
Psalm 13 NIV
1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.
In Joyful Surrender,