Most of you, my faithful readers, will not be surprised when I tell you that this has been a tough semester for me. The infrequent, somewhat cryptic posts could have clued you in. Or, if you know me outside the blogosphere, the constant look of confusion may have done it for you. Anyway, it's the hardness of life that's kept me from posting because some things really are too personal. Today, though, I've felt prompted to share a little bit, at least.
Some of you may read the word "semester" and think that I'm struggling academically. But, other than having difficulty finding the motivation to complete the work, school hasn't been much of a problem. I've been learning some things and enjoying my classmates. Preaching has been especially good, which is a huge surprise to me.
My current struggles have been more internal; emotional and spiritual. For the past fifteen years or so, I've believed myself to be a basically stoic person. I've begun learning, though, that I am not so much a stoic as a stuffer. Ever since I can remember I have distanced myself from my emotions and now, suddenly, all of the emotions that I'd stuffed down inside myself have decided it's time to come out. The best illustration I can think of is how the Titans were released from their bonds to wreak havoc on the earth in Hercules. (Yes, I just referenced the Disney version of a Greek myth.)
Of course, in the midst of unexpected and unprecendented mood swings, I haven't been able to explain it quite so succinctly before. It's taken me several months of thinking about and talking about these things to understand what's going on with me. And, I'm sure there's still a lot more to understand...
This new understanding hit me in a fresh way as I was listening to a classmate's sermon on Matthew 11:16-19, which goes like this:
"To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge and you did not mourn.' For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners. ' But wisdom is proved right by her actions."The constant refrain in Jason's sermon was that the people just didn't get it. But, one thing he said was especially striking to me. I can't quote him directly, but the gist was that weddings and funerals should be two life events to which we are intensely connected emotionally. Yet, the unresponsive children in this passage were able to contemplate both with dispassion. And, then I remembered all the times my friends had shared news with me, news of engagements and illnesses, of exciting opportunities and huge disappointments, to which I responded with a meager "congratulations" or a wan smile, when I should have been crying or rejoicing with them. The joy and pain that I should have shared with my friends was absent because I had learned not to feel.
Sometimes, I wish I could go back to not feeling because pain hurts. (Obvious, huh?) But, at the same time, I now realize that not feeling pain and sorrow also deadened my ability to feel joy and happiness and I know that I don't want to go back to that. I want to cry when I need to cry and jump up and down when it's time to do that. If you've ever been disappointed in my reactions to your news in the past, know that I am feeling them now, intensely. And, while I can't promise that I will have the right reaction when you bring me your joys and sorrows in the future, I can promise that I will try to experience them both with you.
I am Elliott and I feel.