I fear negative emotions. I don’t like feeling them. I feel like it’s a sin to feel them. I’ve struggled with depression in the past so when I feel them, I feel like it’s only a matter of time before depression knocks on my door. So, I try to quickly replace it with something joyful or cry out to God for it to stop. I only want to feel happy. Even if I’m having a rough time, I’ve been taught that it’s no one’s business, there are worse things going on in the world so put on a smile and get through it.
Just to give you some context. When I receive a positive text message it might take a day to respond. On the other hand, if I receive a negative text message, I respond immediately. I must know what I did wrong; I have to diffuse the situation before it gets worse. It’s almost like when I get a positive text, that I cling to the good about myself that I like to hear. While with the negative text messages, they expose the flawed parts of me that exist but I avoid. I choose to not acknowledge it. When it surfaces, I need to resolve and get rid of it quickly or self-loathing begins to build.
These past few weeks I’ve been forced to process negative emotions. It really started with Ahmaud Arbery. I am also a runner and experienced some anxiety running after his death. Then came news about Breonna Taylor where her death exposed the vulnerability many black women feel all the time. Then came George Floyd. His death spurned a revolutionary awakening of white consciousness that I never expected to see.
Many emotions have been going through my mind during this time. I’ve been given space to feel how I feel. I’ve felt sadness, anger, despair, confusion; sometimes all within the same hour. Anytime before this when a black man or woman was killed, I was expected to feel nothing because that’s what the world felt. Nothing. Coming to terms with this truth, I then became angry; because the way systems of oppression work is when white people feel something, then I’m given permission to feel. I’ve gotten countless texts from people whether they be White, Asian, etc just to see “how I’m doing.” They expect for me to not be okay because they’ve allowed for me this time and space to feel and to process. This adds a new weight when you realize oppression has that great of a hold on your response to society.
But in this thinking and processing, I’ve been going back and forth between what God was saying and what the culture was saying, and I got caught up. I realized that in this moment I’ve leaned more into my identity as a black woman and less on my identity as a Christian. That was wrong. In my frustration, I’ve posted, texted, and said things in anger that I never knew I had within me.
Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
2 Timothy 4:2-5
In my anger, I sinned. I’ve repented and now I’m trying to approach this how God wants me too and its HARD. But I know that in this, I’m growing, and God will be glorified! I’m realizing that this world needs more empathy and authenticity in this time. We can’t be afraid of the darkness that exists in our hearts.
What if we embraced the negative feelings we have? What if I took a hard look at my flaws and loved them? That’s what Jesus does for us everyday. He loves us to life. He paid a price for us to do the same.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Jesus wants us all to live a full, blessed, amazing life. He wants us to truly heal and live united with every life being seen as valuable. I’m learning to not be so shaken by the things I see on social media that I don’t agree with and to not judge the people that post them. I’m learning to silence the many voices around me (in my head and on social media) that make me doubt my convictions and to only let in the ones that challenge them. It’s hard to know which voices bring life and correction and which ones bring destruction. It will be a tough road, but I choose daily to be optimistic. To trust God with these negative emotions and keep my head in all situations. In the end, He will bring us through.