Learning Lately: the power of emotions

A few days ago, I was sitting across from my best friend in her house, chatting about her dream for the future. She had music playing in the other room as always, and I wasn’t really listening to it. All of a sudden, my ears picked up a familiar melody I hadn’t heard in years. It flowed through my mind and it took me a second to realize where I knew it from, and I stopped in the middle of a sentence.

I couldn’t put into words what was happening in my heart, the memories this song drudged up into my mind. I just said “I sang this song my senior year of high school as my first solo.” And I immediately started crying. Not ugly crying, but the kind where your face doesn’t move and the tears just pour out uncontrollably.

Other people may have thought this was weird. But she just said “oh wow, that’s amazing”, turned the song up and sat with me until it was over. When it ended, she said “you’re becoming a crybaby like me!” and we laughed. It was true, though. I’ve had a very hard exterior my entire life. I’ve never been good at expressing emotion. In fact, I’d say I’m terrible at it. Half the time I’m not even sure what to name what I’m feeling. This is one of the reasons I’m in therapy – to learn how to process and express. So for me to be this vulnerable with someone other than my husband, it didn’t feel normal. Usually I’d be terrified of it. But it felt really good.

I couldn’t speak for a few minutes after the song changed. I just sat there and remembered what the lyrics had meant to me, tears on my face.

Music has always been powerful for me. Singing has always felt like an expression of emotion I couldn’t put in words on my own.

This soothing woman’s voice had spoken to me that way seven years ago. I was a senior in high school, in the middle of some tough struggles. It was the first song I sung on a stage, all by myself. My first step of confidence, and the beginning of the belief that I could actually sing in front of people. My heart needed the message of these words every single day, and seven years later, it still does.

It’s not a well known song, which is why I was so shocked that I was hearing it. It’s by JJ Heller, and it’s called What Love Really Means. I’ve linked the Youtube video if you want to hear it. But here are the lyrics:

He cries in the corner where nobody sees
He’s the kid with the story
No one would believe
He prays every night
“Dear God won’t you please
Could you send someone here
Who will love me?”

Who will love me for me
Not for what I have done
Or what I will become
Who will love me for me
‘Cause nobody has shown me what love
What love really means
What love really means

Her office is shrinking a little each day
She’s the woman whose husband has run away
She’ll go to the gym after working today
Maybe if she was thinner
Then he would’ve stayed
And she says

Who will love me for me
Not for what I have done
Or what I will become
Who will love me for me
‘Cause nobody has shown me what love
What love really means
What love really means

He’s waiting to die as he sits all alone
He’s a man in a cell who regrets what he’s done
He utters a cry from the depths of his soul
“Oh Lord, forgive me, I want to go home”

Then he heard a voice somewhere deep inside
And it said
“I know you’ve murdered and I know you’ve lied
And I have watched you suffer all of your life
And now that you’ll listen I’ll, I’ll tell you that I…”

I will love you for you
Not for what you have done
Or what you will become
I will love you for you
I will give you the love
The love that you never knew

Love you for you
Not for what you have done
Or what you will become
I will love you for you
I will give you the love
The love that you never knew

Just reading those words, they make me well up. That chorus: I will love you for you. Not for what you have done or what you will become. Don’t we all crave this love? This unconditional, unchanging adoration for who we are, just as we are, all the time. A person can’t give us this. I learned that early on in life. People can’t, but God DOES.

Each of the stories in this song spoke to my heart. Someone young, seeking love. Someone older, in pain and wishing she felt she was enough. And someone who the world casts away, who is invisible, who has messed up irreparably. God sees them all.

I’ve felt like each of these people at one point in my life. At each moment, God was there, telling me nothing changes His love for me.

He loves me so much that He brought this song back up right when I needed it. And I didn’t even realize I needed it. In that moment, I was able to show my friend that I am willing to be vulnerable in front of her, that I trust her. It was powerful for me, but it was even more powerful for our friendship.

If you’ve ever wondered why I’m a Christian, this is it. There is nothing in this world that can give us the fulfillment that God does. He made me this way for a reason, and if I want to

If you’ve never heard it before, here’s the truth: God loves you abundantly and relentlessly. His love never fails.

Since that day, I’ve been processing what it means to share emotions.

This concept is foreign to me because I feel safer when my emotions are processed internally. But just like a few days ago, I’ve been shown that the hidden emotions are the  ones that can develop the strong relationships I crave.

I’ve had my share of surface level relationships, maybe more than my share even. I became content with this, only going about 5 inches deep with the people I called my closest friends. What I hadn’t realized until recently is that they barely knew anything about me and I them.

This isn’t just with friends, though. I’ve had difficulty expressing how I feel for as long as I can remember, even with family. It was only recently I realized how FREEING it can be when I let my heart be known.

It is powerful; freeing; empowering; healthy. I see this in my weepy friend (as I refer to her affectionately). It fosters closeness and authenticity. It’s terrifying, but it’s much better than not being truly known by anyone at all.

How though?
I could not have come to this understanding without therapy. It broke through my strongest walls. I shared my brokenness with a stranger, and it was definitely weird at first. But after a year, it has taught me I am able to open up to someone and not be hurt by it.

Practically, I want to try these things:

1. Being overly communicative (even if it feels annoying)
2. Avoiding deflection – I do this more than anything because I’m embarrassed of how I’m really feeling, so I make it someone else’s issue that needs fixing. I’m learning how to get directly at the source in my heart instead.
3. Writing it down – sometimes I get flustered and can’t figure out the right words to say. Writing has always felt more natural to me.

To be completely honest, I was really nervous to post this. I don’t know if it will speak to anyone that reads it or if it will be helpful at all. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. But it helped me. Writing this post, I realized how much I hide from people. I desire so much to have authentic relationships, but I am terrified of rejection. That’s why I write 5+ drafts of my posts to make sure they’re perfect. I think this one had about 7. And I always change things right at the last second because I want every detail to be right. I am a broken person, with issues galore. But I am also a beloved daughter of God. So despite all of my fear and anxiety, I am enough. And so are you.

Thank you for reading what I have to say. I appreciate it more than you know.

Y O U    A R E    L O V E D 


4 thoughts on “Learning Lately: the power of emotions

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