My summer has been spent in the deep. How about yours?
Remember the story in Luke 5? The fishermen were weary from their work and they hadn’t caught much. Jesus got into one of the boats and told Simon to go out into the deep water.
When they got to the deep, Jesus said to let the fishing nets back down. When they did, they caught so much that the nets began to break. The fishermen had to call for help because the boats were so full!
What’s the point of this story? I’m not a theologian. I’m a pretty simple woman. What this says to me is that sometimes we wait, and wait, and wait – any we have to result for our waiting or our efforts. Sometimes, we have to go out a little deeper and hang in there – and then we will see some result.
Life is like that. When we’re in pain, or struggling, or outright suffering – we want to escape. We drink, or eat, or sleep too much, or do any number of other distracting things – anything to avoid sitting in the deep for a while.
When I was younger, after the loss of both of my parents in my teens, I had anxiety issues. You know what I mean? So many things made me feel anxious – new experiences, talking to new people, going to new places. Anxiety really limited my life for a while.
What did I do? I learned to sit with the anxiety rather than try to run away from it.
Anxiety wasn’t going to kill me. The more I ran away from it, the more it controlled me.
I learned to sit with it and calm myself.
A willingness to sit in the deep for a bit yielded a calmer, more focused Christine.
My time in the deep now is different from when I was younger. My relationship issues and life challenges are different from then. But they are still hard.
I can sit with them, and learn from them – or I can run away from them and avoid them.
Avoiding them only ensures a life lived at a shallow level. Choosing to not examine my discontent or disconnection in relationships means things will never change or get better.
Therapists would refer to this as learning to sit with your feelings. Feelings are funny things. We distrust them. In learning to distrust them, when they pop up (sometimes like a volcano!) our first instinct is to resist them.
Your brain said, “O my goodness. This feeling is strong. I shouldn’t be feeling this level of emotion. I must suppress this feeling.”
At first, suppressing might be easy. We tamp the feeling down and keep moving.
Feelings are like a pressure cooker. If we let the pressure build up and don’t allow some steam to escape, we will blow!
“Blowing” might mean uncomfortable feelings, or anxiety, or depression from unrelenting stress.
You can “control” your feelings for a while. Left unattended and unexpressed, they will work against you.
So what do you do?
Be willing to stay in the deep for a bit.
So what does this look like? Here’s the toughie – you have to quit judging your feelings.
It happens like this: You feel a feeling, you don’t like the feeling, you label it as bad or unacceptable, you stuff it down.
The next time that feeling returns, it’s a little stronger – kind of like a bully. You didn’t deal with it earlier, so now it’s going to take another shot at you.
As you continue to judge the feelings and divert yourself away from dealing with them, the feelings acquire power.
What happens when we sit in the deep a bit and realize that feelings aren’t going to kill us?
Peace. Relief. Self-acceptance.Calm.
How about you? Trust yourself to sit in the deep a bit. It will change you.
The gift it will give you is perspective- a gem of rare beauty.