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News -> Pastor's Column Wednesday, July 23, 2014
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"Befriending Dark Emotions"

By Peggy Byland
"Out of Mouths... From the Heart"

The dark emotions, grief, fear, despair and anger come from deep inside our wounded selves.  They scrape along the raw edges of our minds and bleed from the vulnerability of our open and jagged bodies.   Even our souls are not left without scars.  

Once we have identified the emotion from which we are suffering, we must learn to befriend it.  We accept it and rather than avoid it, we lean into it.  “Lean into your grief,” the experts used to tell us.  “Don’t run away from it.”

Often the dark emotions hide themselves in parts of our bodies.   When I hear sad, traumatic news, it hits me right in my stomach.  When I am surprised, I feel like the wind is knocked out of me.  When I am afraid my heart races, my hands sweat and my mouth feels dry.  Despair lodges in my joints, making it laborious to move.

For years I felt the pain of grief and the fear of illness and maybe even a hint of anger hidden in my body, but I didn’t identify it as such.   I can’t even tell you today what the trigger was, but I can explain it to you.  My sister died of breast cancer, which metastasized to her liver taking her life in 1998, two months after my father died.  My mother hid her breast cancer and died of advanced breast cancer four years later.  She had a mastectomy on 9/11.  I carried the sorrow and anger of breast cancer in my body.  Occasionally I would feel the normal sensation of milk letting-down, a tingling in the breasts and quickly stop the sensation because I feared it was a precursor to my developing breast cancer.

My response to this feeling in my body was to run away, to deny, to escape from the memory of the loss of my sister and mother.  I denied the grief and hid the fear.  I needed to learn to “lean into the pain.”  And when I did so, the fear disappeared, the feeling of anger and despair lessened and I was able to accept the loss of two women in my life who shaped, nurtured and loved me.  I was able to cry.

Befriending our emotions opens the way for the grace of God to invade our souls and envelop our lives.  The strong arms of God hold and support us.  God’s strength gives us strength.  We can move forward as healthier people knowing who we are and whose we are.












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