Living in a broken world is painful, even more painful at times than we feel our hearts can endure. That is why I am so thankful for Rachel Norman and how she reminds us to keep bringing all the feelings, emotions, and overwhelming traumatic experiences to God, even the ones we would rather bury. Rachel is a mother of five and shares so graciously how with God we can go from brokenness on the journey to wholeness. And how acknowledging and working through all the things we’ve buried can help us live more fully with Christ. It is a grace to welcome Rachel to the farm’s table today…
Think of yourself as a modest two story home.
You have a few bedrooms, a few bathrooms, a living room, kitchen, and a basement. The home is a lovely safe place with pretty furnishings, beautiful art and all the perfect trinkets in all the right places that make it so inviting .
And the basement…well, that’s where the ugly stuff is stored and stuffed.
“Our emotional basement is where we put all the emotions and feelings we don’t want to see.”
Your Emotional Basement
Our emotional basement is where we put all the emotions and feelings we don’t want to see. Where we put the things we aren’t ready to deal with and don’t like.
That time when you were made to feel ugly? Feeling unloved or neglected as a child? Failing a grade in school? Being bullied and called names?
When a spouse or boyfriend cheated on you and left you? When God felt far away? When “friends” were spreading rumors? The traumatic death of a loved one?
Pain and suffering from infertility or the loss of a child? The sting of humiliation and shame?
Shove it in the basement.
Stuffing our overwhelming feelings in our emotional basement is what we do to avoid having all the ugly, unwieldy, or unpleasant things in our lovely house.
We don’t want others to see the less than presentable parts, and the truth is, we aren’t sure what to actually do with them, so we bury them out of sight.
This burying of the ugly parts of life is a clever thing to do until one day, our emotional basement gets full. And then it gets harder and harder to stuff things into it. Because now, when you open the door to the basement, instead of being able to throw some more stuff down the stairs, you realize that the junk has filled up the whole basement, and piled all the way up the stairs.
And then one fateful day, it starts overflowing into the house.
Could this one principle explain why we hardly ever cry, and then when we start crying we just can’t stop?
It’s ok, there’s no need to beat ourselves up over this. We’ve just been given a gracious awareness – it’s time to create some space around all that’s been piling up in our emotional basement.
It’s time to give ourselves some grace.
Many of us moms live feeling unhappy, stressed, anxious, and then feeling guilty for having these feelings in the first place. We get angry at ourselves, feeling like we can’t do anything right, and then we start feeling resentful of the impossible standard of perfection.
“It’s time to bring the buried feelings and piled up emotions into the gracious, loving presence of the Lord.”
A whole heap of feelings piled on top of buried emotions leave us looking for the nearest escape route from our own lives.
It’s time to break the cycle of self-condemnation.
It’s time to bring the buried feelings and piled up emotions into the gracious, loving presence of the Lord.
To honestly pray to Lord,
Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish. Psalm 25:16-17
As you begin to empty your emotional basement and start bringing some of your true emotions to the Lord, keep giving yourself grace.
“we can never get where we want to go if we don’t accept the reality of where we are.”
You won’t do this perfectly.
You don’t have to do this perfectly.
But isn’t this a great place to start? Without the pressure of perfection? Simply starting where you are. Because we can never get where we want to go if we don’t accept the reality of where we are.
A buried wound cannot heal. But our gentle Shepherd,
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3
Try Loving Yourself as You Would Love Your Neighbor
As you begin the work of unpacking your emotional basement, be careful not to beat yourself up along the way. Cut yourself some slack. Do for yourself what you would do for others.
Can you imagine if you treated your neighbor as poorly as you treat yourself?
“Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is your first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law, and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40
For most of us, loving our neighbor as we love ourselves, would actually make us a horrible neighbor. If we treated our neighbor how we treat ourselves, we would focus on all she’s doing poorly in life. We’d criticize her for still wearing stretchy pants, and doing so little with her hair. We would point out all the bulges, wrinkles, cellulite, and blemishes.
When she was going through a hard time we’d tell her to stop whining and crying because it wouldn’t change anything. We would look her in the eye and tell her to get over it and muscle through her misery. We’d remind her there are people in the world with much worse problems so she should be ashamed of herself for feeling bad.
“In your journey towards healing and wholeness, remember to treat yourself with the same gentleness and compassion you’d treat a friend.”
If we loved our neighbor as we have loved ourselves, we’d tell her she’s a bad mom. We’d tell her that her house is never clean enough, her bank account is never large enough, and her to-do list is never done enough.
Think about it, If we loved all our neighbors as we have loved ourselves, we would be the most hated woman on the street.
In your journey towards healing and wholeness, remember to treat yourself with the same gentleness and compassion you’d treat a friend.
It may just change your life.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12
Rachel Norman is a mother of 5, author, parent coach, and lover of routine. She believes you can run a low-stress home without feeling out of control and overwhelmed. Rachel wrote If Mama Ain’t Happy to help mothers unburden themselves from comparison, ungodly and unrealistic standards, and comparison with the world.
Are you weary? Stressed? Depressed, anxious, and annoyed? And, to top it all off, do you feel guilty for feeling bad? Rachel Norman gets you. She knows how much you love your kids. And how, day after day, you put your family’s needs first, which means your own needs come last. Or don’t come at all. In If Mama Ain’s Happy, Rachel gently holds your hand and teaches you to discover and claim your own limits and boundaries so you can be a calm, resilient, peaceful mother. If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. But when mama is at peace? Everyone benefits.
[ Our humble thanks to Tyndale for their partnership in today’s devotion ]