Today’s Poem: Overwhelmed

Sometimes the feelings get too big

And there’s no hole that I can dig

That’s big enough to hide away

The harder things I never say

I never quite learned how to manage

Emotions that make me a savage

Tell everyone it’s not their fault

Seal the pain inside a vault

That acts as my own inner tomb

That blows apart once out of room

How can I name things I don’t know?

Feelings never meant to show

How can it be that I’m not steel,

Immune from human needs to feel?

The fact is I’m a person, too

With fears & doubts & pain like you

And I work hard to keep a hold,

To keep intensity controlled

Sometimes I slip, but so do you

I know that you get big feels, too

I guess there’s always work to do

And that’s okay… Yes, I’m okay

Know that you are okay, too.

Give Me a Break

Everyone needs to break.

Everyone.

I used to believe differently. I thought tears would make me weak, and I thought I was weak because of how often tears would threaten. I thought only crazy people had “breakdowns,” and I thought I was crazy because of how often I ended up hitting myself or breaking things.

Now, as a grown man, I cry. Often. Whether it’s something moving, sad, frustrating, joyous, or hopeless, I let my emotions come through. When I need to break, I break, and it’s changed my life.

I don’t hit myself anymore. I don’t judge myself for feeling intensely because those moments of brokenness are the backside of a coin that includes a fierce and passionate love for people and for life. Oddly enough, the more honest and expressive I am “in the moment,” the less often I need to have the big meltdowns.

I think the world would be a better place if we were courageous enough to break. Stoicism has it’s place, but aspiring to be “strong” even when we need to be softer has everyone putting up a flimsy front that does more harm than good.

We need to grieve. Our hearts must break if we are to actually care enough to make positive changes. We need to be in touch with everything painful in order to truly appreciate everything pleasant.

Part of my Christian upbringing that always comforts me is its portrayal of the real world. There isn’t only bliss, nor is their only pain. Both the cross and the empty tomb make up our existence.

So if you’re bottling, suppressing, and hiding, do yourself a favor and break. Let your whole self come forth so that you can experience the fullness of life, and also so that the world may know the fullness of you.

Peace be with you!

Balance

the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people‚Äôs weeping, for the people shouted so loudly that the sound was heard far away. — Ezra 3:13, NRSV

You’ve probably heard it a million times. “Life is about balance.” Whether it’s off-setting your diet with a cupcake, your exercise with a day of sloth-like relaxation, or your attempts at holiness with the odd swear word, it seems balance is something we appeal to more and more frequently.

When reading Ezra 3 this morning, I was struck by the last paragraph. The Israelites have returned to rebuild Jerusalem, specifically the temple. Having been in exile, you can imagine there are mixed emotions when confronted with the reconstruction of God’s house.

Many of the Israelites raise a shout of praise (3:11), while the older generations, “who had seen the first house on its foundations,” began to weep (3:12). What struck me is that this is all that is said.

No one corrects the mourners.

No one rebukes those who celebrate.

All of the emotion, whether joyous or grief-stricken, is held in a single, glorious tension. The entire mash up of sound rises on the air and simply… is.

To me, that is the balance of life.

It’s not how often you nap or do goat yoga. It’s about fully experiencing the broad range of emotion and beauty and pain that this life has to offer. To live a balanced life is to find peace in the tension between our greatest joys and deepest sorrows, knowing a well-lived life is comprised of both.

We are in a world afraid to feel, and afraid to hurt. Our culture forces down “negative” emotions in favor of the “sunny side up” approach to everything, not realizing that to paint pain as abnormal is to reinforce unhealthy emotional processing and coping mechanisms.

My prayer, then, is that we will instead accept this Scriptural representation of balance. I hope we will be bold enough to feel, to sing, to laugh, and to grieve. I hope we will decide, no matter the experience, to just “be” in it. After all, we only get one chance.

Peace be with you!