Haunted by Unrealistic Expectations
When children fall, they often have the habit of looking around for a split second. Before they get up, they want to know: “Did anyone see this great tragedy of mine?” They make a quick evaluation based upon the intensity of their pain, and the response of others. If others have noticed, then a flood of tears and the incessant cries begin as a result of the pain. The emotional response of the pain is released. If no one has noticed, then the pain and the tears are both suppressed.
This pattern is often carried into adulthood. If there is a compassionate listening ear, we are more prone to share our burdens and the pain deep within us. That becomes an opportunity for us to open ourselves up so that our inward being can be healed. Does anyone care? Is anyone concerned?
But if there is no listening ear, then it is clear that there is no opportunity to open up. Thus we suppress the hurt and pain deep within us. Unless properly dealt with, the suppressed pain and emotions stay within this individual throughout their entire lives. There are three areas where these suppressed emotions will impact the person: social, spiritual, and physical.
Socially, the suppressed emotions act as a filter. All our experiences are interpreted through this filter. The danger in this is that our pain and suppressed emotions will cause us to react in negative ways. We will appear irritated, hurtful, and illogical even in the simple aspects of daily life. Our friends and families will become the “victims” of our emotional tirades. But during that time, we will see ourselves as the victim and everyone else as our enemies. This eventually turns into a vicious cycle from which it is difficult to break out.
Spiritually, something similar happens to us. We interpret God and his work from the same perspective of our pain. Although we may not see God as our enemy (sometime we do), we are not able to draw close to him. Our relationship with God remains superficial, with only a “formal” religiosity. No intimate connection with God at all. Ultimately we end up with a “form” of godliness, but no life.
The physical results of pain and suppressed emotions can also be identified. Numerous physical ailments have been traced to emotional and stress related issues. For 17 years, my lower back pain had caused me tremendous pain, and other challenges as well. It was a long process of emotional healing which continues even now. You can read about that at this link. That process was accelerated tremendously when I understood the link between my chronic lower back pain and my emotions. It was a book by Dr. Joseph Bowles that alerted me to that connection and helped me to deal with it systematically.
So, does anyone care? Of course there are so many who care, but because of my “filter” of pain and suppressed emotions, I just haven’t noticed. Now I am on a journey — a journey of healing. This journey is three-fold: social, spiritual, and physical. The physical is complete, but so much is lacking in other areas. The Holy Spirit is literally walking me through this process. It’s a painful process, but well worth it.
How about you? Does anyone care? What’s your journey like?
Share it here in the comments.
*Name changed for privacy
Which are the dreams in your life that have never been fulfilled? Maybe they are promises of God that have never become a reality. Those promises also became your dream as well. But somehow, life seems to have led you in a different path.
After reaching a certain age, you have concluded that some of these dreams are no longer possible. You know that there is no way for circumstances to be reversed so that your dreams can be fulfilled.
“These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” (Hebrews 11:13-16 ESV)
I was in my late teens as I stood before the judge that day. His words were very clear and spoken directly as he looked me in the eyes: “Young man, you were caught on the radar violating the school zone speed limit by 40 miles per hour! What do you have to say for yourself?”
It was a fun and exhilarating experience for me as I threw each can over the fence until a man walked by who started yelling at me. He said something about damaging the cars and what a nuisance kids are these days. I remember as I heard that man’s voice, I had two objections to his reaction. First, I did not see any damage to the vehicles as the beer cans bounced off the vehicles. Those vehicles just simply drove on. Second, he used the word “kids” in plural. There was no one else with me as I accomplished this task. After some more yelling the man just walked away after giving me a warning. Then I threw one more can and ran in the other direction as I saw that man turning around to me.
It was in my late teens that I heard the saying: “Life is not out to break you but to make you.” This statement has helped me tremendously over the ears as I faced numerous struggles in life. I would remember the words of Jesus: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33ESV)
When the pain became physical and I was bed-ridden for months at a time, I began to question my own perspectives. “Maybe life is out to break me, not to make me.” I helped so many others to find hope, but I ended up in a hopeless situation.
Through numerous tragedies in her life, Lee Ezell in her book,Finding Hope When Life’s Not Fair, says: “…it may be way too early to judge whether or not this catastrophe in your life will ultimately be devastating. Perhaps you will soon see how God is working it into His plan for you! Both the good and the bad may be woven together into the beautiful tapestry of our life.”
So what if you think life is out to break you, not make you? Remember that Jesus has overcome the world and he offers us his peace. If you can wait long enough, he works it out in our lives so that it becomes something beautiful in his eyes, either here on earth or beyond.
How have you handled your situations where you felt that life is out to break you, not make you? Do you have suggestions for others in the same situation?
Leave your comments below.
Photo credit michael pollakCreative Commons.
His wife had similar characteristics as well. Even while she battled cancer, she was determined to remain standing during the entire worship time. It was her own way of expressing her heart’s gratitude to what God has done in her family through the years.
Growing older doesn’t have to be a scary and difficult situation. Sure, as you move up in years, you’ll have more physical limitations. But instead of being discouraged, it should be a time to re-focus your approach.
Several years ago I wrote a blog post called Has Life Begun? I had just turned forty that day, and wanted to share some of my thoughts. The most significant idea for me was that I wanted to focus my time and energy on things I am “made” for. The idea is to focus on the core of what you do, the most essential matters only. Let all other things have a secondary status.
When you try to do everything as before, the situation becomes problematic. You just may not have the energy or stamina as in your earlier years. Make your goals more realistic with the primary focus on the essentials. These essentials are in effect what you are “made” for.
All the experiences you’ve had over the years have built you and prepared you for the important task of focusing on your essentials. Now, it is time to narrow your focus and put in your best. Your later years can be the most strategic and productive.
What are the things you feel you are “made” for?
Please leave your comments here.
Photo by mcohen.chromiste Creative Commons