These next few weeks, I will be sharing guest posts from women who inspire me to be better! This week’s guest post is from a dear friend of mine, Cassie Luke who just recently moved to Dallas, Texas. She inspires me to be brave and to trust in what God is calling me to do even when it means going outside of my comfort zone. Cassie also inspires me to be healthy, happy, balanced, and grow in my relationship with God. I am so thankful for her encouragement and wisdom in my life! I hope you enjoy reading about how God is working in Cassie’s life. Please share with us the women in your life who inspire you by tweeting me @blaynejohn using #womenwhoinspire!
How are you feeling? By Cassie Luke
I am a fixer and a list-maker. In my efficient life, I don’t often (or ever) want to take time think about or explore what I am feeling. Can anyone relate? About a year ago, a dear friend from church and I realized we both had a tendency to stuff our emotions to avoid dealing with them and also so that others would not really see what we were feeling. Admitting that this was not healthy was an easy starting place, but we wanted something grounded in truth to replace our practice. We began a study on emotions and what they mean to someone trying to live out a Christian faith. Both of us – well, certainly me – had the mistaken idea that having Christian faith meant always being an upbeat, perpetually-happy person who smiles, seemingly unaware of adversity and hardship. Anyway, we studied the Bible. Have you read Psalms and tried to identify some of the author’s feelings? There is no shying away from emotions there! We also read and listened to the thoughts of Lysa TerKeurst (Unglued), Brene Brown (Daring Greatly and her TED talk on vulnerability), Timothy Keller (so many great sermons and books) and C.S. Lewis (so many great books). I loved the intellectual pursuit!
Over two months ago I moved my life to Dallas after seven years of Flagstaff living. I knew that there would be a transition period moving to a new city and creating new connections. Intellectually, I grasp so much about the transition process. (I know theories about transition and my job involves helping thousands of students each year transition into their new lives at university.) As described above, I had also just finished a year-long study on emotions. Knowing something though does not take away actual feelings (I realized I had kinda wanted my study of emotions to decrease what I would actually feel). My move has caused so many emotions. I so badly want to revert to the familiar practice of stuffing them. How easy to pretend I am “fine” so I can tell myself and everyone that things are okay. But taking the time to follow my emotions down to their root is teaching me so much about myself, my faith and my God.
Here is a recent (convicting) journey that I took: I realize I am reliving each conversation I had today ten times in my head looking for potential ways I could have upset someone or misrepresented who I am. I am super-anxious about what people think of me and nervous that if I upset someone I might kill a potential friendship. Being alone in this giant city has felt very lonely because I miss being around people who know me more than superficially. I fear that people here will never really know me here… or they will know me and I still won’t find friends! I feel guilty for not being as “socially brave” as others and also for being so tired from the socialization that I eek out.
Honestly, I could keep that spiral going but I try to stop myself and start praying. The exploration allows my prayers to be specific: God, thank You for the reminder that I am imperfect and that I need You in my life. My pride blinds me to my need for You, but I certainly now see the need. I am a people-pleaser and I know this is misdirected energy. I want to focus on first making You happy. I struggle with the idea that not all my actions and words could be seen as kind by everyone, but what futile work. Please give me peace to be myself and patience in this friend-making process. Give me the strength to be vulnerable around people. And give me grace to love those people who might not want to create connections with who I am. You love me and are pleased with my efforts to obey You.
Being vulnerable and allowing real emotions is still very scary and exhausting but it is bringing me daily closer to God. This has brought on a whole new meaning to the question, “How are you feeling?”
“Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation.” ~C.S. Lewis