Their courage struck me from the beginning. I was really impressed. I couldn’t believe that I was sitting around a table of five teenage guys from this inner-city high school bearing their feelings.
They had been through difficult times, for sure. But, it’s not every day you hear five teenage guys talk about being sad, depressed, surprised, numb, hopeful, hurt, confused, and many other raw emotions.
I was leading a grief group for students who had lost someone or something in their lives. They had all experienced some level of stuck or their experience was so recent, they were not even sure yet how to process it.
Guys tend to not admit openly, particularly with other guys their own age, their honest and real emotions. Well, except anger.
For some reason, anger is almost always acceptable in our culture for guys to express. But, not the other very real emotions that we all experience.
Sadness. Confusion. Nervousness. Frustration. Worry. Jealousy. Guilt.
Just moments after the group ended, two other guys ended up in a fist fight. Anger was too much, but most certainly acceptable to them. It was expressed with fists flailing.
As a high school counselor, let me tell you this. Emotions are okay. For guys, too. Not only are they okay, but they
need NEED to be expressed. In healthy ways, of course.
As a former pastor, let me tell you this, Emotions are okay. For Christians, too. Not only are they okay, but they
need NEED to be expressed. In God honoring ways, of course.
I have found over the years, that just like the fact that many “tough” guys feel the need to hide or shove their feelings down instead of talking about them, many Christians want to do the same because they are fearful about what God or other Christians might think of them.
Emotions are a part of the human experience. They are real and valid. They speak to us. And it is important that we listen to them.
We can’t always trust our feelings, but they exist for a reason and we must listen. We must express. We must learn to process. Sometimes out loud and sometimes through our actions.
In Jesus, we see a man who was sad, angry, peaceful, frustrated, confused and discouraged. Yet, was without sin. He experienced the full range of human emotion and expressed them in God honoring ways.
May we do the same. The best place and way to do that is in the company of those we trust. Our family, close friends, a counselor or pastor, perhaps.
Find someone you trust and open up. Let those emotions be expressed and learn how to process in a safe space. Then go forward and help someone else do the same.