Nicole Alison serves as Coordinating Assistant to Operations at The Church of the Resurrection. Nicole finds her voice through writing. In her spare time she is a personal blogger and a ghost- writer for the Next Steps Pastor at a local church in Lenexa. Her passion is to share the love of Jesus through personal stories of redemption.
I drove up to a small antique shop nestled in a quaint neighborhood, flooded with emotions I didn’t know how to process. I was going to meet the owner, Maggie. She was an acquaintance from long ago who was several years older than me. The few times we had met in the past it was obvious she had a strong assurance in Christ. We had been Facebook friends for many years and fell out of touch. But something in me needed to talk to someone who had some years on me in the wisdom department, and I felt prompted to reach out to her. I needed some sort of hope, because I was at the end of myself.
For the past several months, I was pretending. I was smiling when inside I was struggling. I was pushing through the days, saying the right things and doing the right things, but internally I was fighting sadness, fear and doubt. I didn’t believe I was allowed to go through a hard time. I felt this pressure to “count my blessings,” so to speak. I felt that I had to trust that God has a plan, that there is a bigger picture. But in the parking lot getting ready to go meet with Maggie, I was done with hiding out in my pain.
As I approached the little shop my feet were dragging and my shoulders slouched with weariness. When I saw Maggie, her eyes lit up at my presence. “You made it!” she exclaimed. Graciously she poured me a glass of ice cold water and ushered me to a small round table by a beautiful bay window that looked out on bushes of soft pink roses. Christian music was playing in the background, lyrics I knew so well. The centerpiece of the table was Maggie’s Bible. I remember hoping that she wouldn’t quote scripture–I needed to talk about my feelings.
After a little small talk, she dove right in. “What’s up?“ she asked. That was the green light to pour out all my weighty struggles. I was so tired of holding back my true feelings. Now that I had a chance to speak, my thoughts seemed to fly out of my mouth in a rambling mess. Maggie looked at me with compassion, and was not shocked at all by my heartaches and burdens. Her eyes shimmered with some knowledge that I craved to know.
There were 2 things Maggie said that struck me. She said God is not surprised by what you’re going through, and you don’t have to feel guilty for feeling the way you do. It took me a while for her words to sink in as I thought to myself…”I don’t have to feel guilty for feeling ashamed of my past, feeling doubtful about my future and the anxieties for what God has for me today?” Maggie’s words were everything I needed to hear. They lifted a hundred pound weight off my shoulders. It was as though Maggie was giving me permission to feel, and it was life-giving. Without guilt in the way, I could face my feelings head on and have the courage to keep seeking Jesus in the midst of my emotions.
I learned so much that day in a cute antique shop with a sweet lady willing to listen. Jesus knows the feelings we have and why we have them–they are no surprise to Him. In Scripture, like Mark 3:5, we know Jesus experienced emotions, and I’m so glad He did. Even though Jesus is bigger than our struggles and more than we can fathom, it’s comforting to know that we don’t have to pretend to count our blessings when we are in the midst of feeling ashamed, doubtful, tired and weary. We can admit our feelings and “feel” okay about it! I think when we are free to feel, we can change, because we are accepted and loved beyond emotions that come and go.
If you’re stuffing emotions today, who can you talk to? I hope you find peace in the truth that Jesus knows why you’re feeling the way you do. Nothing is a surprise to Him. Go to Him and unravel what you’re going through. Going to Jesus is a safe place where we can face emotions because His love never wavers in the midst of our struggle. Amen!
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