Yesterday, I wished I could turn my feeler off.
Today, I realized that, as much as it hurt, I was alive with emotion.
Looking back, after Jake died, part of me died too. I no longer wanted to feel. It hurt too much. I think that only those that know me really well ever saw the shift, for I pretended well. I said the right things, looked sad when needed, paid attention to kids when necessary but didn’t get emotionally involved with them. No way. I was surrounded by many people I loved and wouldn’t quit loving but as much as I could control, I wouldn’t allow new possible hurts in. I began to see people as possible new hurts so I shut myself off mentally. I hurt and I didn’t ever want to feel that kind of pain again. Why openly expose yourself? Just take a step back from life. Somewhere deep down, I really thought that if I just stopped feeling, I might stop hurting. I know there were times when unwanted emotion seeped in, especially with my kids or family for I was deeply attached to them. But I can look back and see I had a wall up, or maybe even a fortress surrounding my heart.
I was never the one who through fits with God. I cried, but rarely had public outburts. I hurt, but rarely admitted it. I felt I had to be strong, had to prove I was ok, like my reaction in itself said something about God. I was so scared that if I hurt too much or too openly, I would give Him a bad name. I was determined that Jake’s death would not affect how others saw God. Part of that determination is a good thing. There is a verse in Acts that I love – Paul states that no matter what happens to him, nothing will move him. I wanted to be like that. Strong. Unwavering. Immovable.
Yet, part of me was scared I was a hypocrite. (I mean, some days, using bronzer makes me nervous – being real is serious business to me) I remember going to a funeral for a dear friend and her son had just died. She grieved. Openly. Loudly. I called my Mom, scared that I hadn’t really grieved, the right way (whatever that means??). I questioned myself. Had He really healed me or I had just shut off the feelings? I am sure the answer is both. He had healed me and I had shut down.
God didn’t allow the wall to totally shield me. I distinctly remember the terror when I found out I was pregnant with Jackson. Less than 2 years after Jake’s death, I was going to have another little boy. I was scared to love him, yet couldn’t help myself. Jackson is the kind of boy who demands you love him with everything you have. He wants your full attention and affection. He accepts nothing less. Jackson was just what I needed to force me to feel. The choice wasn’t up to me. He demanded and received my full heart. He was just too wonderful to withhold my affection from.
He faithfully widens the holes in my wall, slowly letting the light in. Yesterday, my feelers were alive with many unwanted, yet necessary activity. For I began to see that as I opened myself to others, they helped heal me. Each kid that hugged on me, told me I smelled good, asked to come home with me, begged for my complete attention on them, showed me a glimpse of His light on my dark heart.
Shielding oneself is not the answer. Exposure is.