For the past 13 months I have been in and out of Dallas prison working with women who have found themselves incarcerated for a litany of reasons. Some days there are no signs of hope; it’s a dark kind of work. But there are some other days where we have to stop and celebrate what God is doing and offering: Healing. A few weeks ago, we did just that. We celebrated one of the women’s day of “feeling” alive. Of course she’s been living for 30 plus years but this is the first time since chaos entered her world that she’s walking into the land of the living with the rest of us. Have you been there before?
She was complaining how everything was hurting, how difficult everything felt and how she was feeling bad all the time. This woman was in deep pain and suffering.
She went on and on and talking about her feelings and how she regretted so many decisions in the past and worst yet, how she sacrificed her children for drugs and alcohol.
And after we listened to her for a good five minutes, I asked the group to give her a round of applause.
We weren't applauding because she was in pain.
We were applauding because for the first time in her life she was feeling real feelings. You see this is the first time in her life she has allowed herself to sober up and “feel”. This is the first time in her life she was alive and seeing her reality; in jail, lost her children and many burned bridges.
Life hurts and we need to feel the pain that accompanies those feelings. We need to experience darkness in order to understand and appreciate the light. We need to feel pain
We often try to find things to numb ourselves so that we would neither feel the pain of our situations nor deal with the challenges of life. We use all kinds of distractions just so we do not have to deal with life. When what’s required is to surrender to the pain and let it develop us, mature us and take us to new heights in life. Pain does not have to paralyze us and leave us empty with nothing to give to the world; pain can propel us to our life’s purpose.
Feelings are not the enemy; feelings are actually our friend. They alert us to different things going on in our lives and give us an opportunity to do something about them. It is what we do with our feelings that can be the potential enemy.
Of course sitting in pain for long periods of time is a great evil that can rob us of life and joy but we need not be in too much of a rush to dismiss and bypass this important part of our development.
If you're in a season where you are “feeling” congratulations you are halfway there, in front of you is an opportunity to heal from those wounds and pursue God’s purpose for your life.