This week my family has been struggling with some tricky child emotions that seem very undefined, but are certainly all-consuming! (They consume the whole child and the whole house and the whole family!)
As the mother in this scenario, the older wiser human involved, the one who is meant to bring calm and kind leadership, the one who is meant to walk the child/children through the tricky emotions that seem so big and scary… I feel pretty well out of my depth!
This whole situation raises all sorts of tricky, grown-up emotions that feel very undefined and also all-consuming!
Perhaps you’ve experienced this as well, but many of my feelings and mental processes play themselves out in my body. As I’m faced with the tensions of these tricky child emotions, I will feel a sinking feeling in my stomach or, quite literally, nauseous. And I find myself reverting into self- preservation mode. I want to rest, take a nap, to feel calm and safe and comfortable. I want to sit somewhere warm and soft and eat something sweet.
I know we have all been in this boat, we can all relate to these feelings. When the hard things come, we long for comfort; comfort, for you, might be digging in your garden or scrubbing your bathroom. Comfort is an important and necessary thing, but I’m feeling challenged by the Holy Spirit to dig into this for a minute.
At what point is self-preservation, sleep, comfort, the need to meet my own need, gratify or satisfy the pain with something…sin? Where’s my motivation coming from when I reach for a cup of coffee and a piece of Victoria Sponge cake or a stiff drink or a hit of something even stronger?
At what point am I moving away from using food or gardening as a comforting routine into avoiding the pain and discomfort of something deeper? If our first response to hard things is to do something that causes us to feel better, are we really looking for healthy comfort or is this response a symptom of a much more significant place of an unmet need or a trauma that we have not allowed the Holy Spirit in to heal and restore us?
I want to be honest and realistic about how these things play out in our lives and how they start.
Where’s the line between healthy comfort and self-medicating? What’s the alternative? Does Jesus want us to just sit in our pain and discomfort? If we sit in it will we just be miserable? Will that make us more like Him?
We all have needs.
Big core needs and smaller more superficial needs, but all of them are real and legitimate. If we don’t get these needs met by Jesus, in a healthy, righteous, relationally connected way, then we will turn to a false comfort, a counterfeit source of life and joy. Counterfeit’s always leave us empty and coming back again and again. (This is how addictions and unhealthy dependencies form.)
But Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” John 4:38
The comfort that Jesus offers is richer and sweeter and not just life-giving but also life-sustaining!
To answer the question I posed earlier…”Does Jesus want us to just sit in our pain and discomfort? Will that make us more like Him?” The answer is that He wants us to bring our pain and discomfort to Him!
A painful experience only becomes a trauma when we experience it alone!
We WILL walk through hard things, that’s an absolute guarantee but, if walk through them with Jesus, those experiences cause us to build a stronger and wider pathway into His presence, the source of all joy and life. As you Encounter Him, over and over, the joy and life you experience will become a spring inside you, gushing up, filling you and flowing to every one around you!
Sometimes it costs us a little more to stop and pull back, to come away with Jesus for a little and confront what we’re wrestling with, but you’ll never ever regret doing that! Also, I think Jesus enjoys a good nap (it’s very Biblical) and a piece of Victoria sponge cake, but let’s do those comforting things in relationship with Him, not as a substitution!