the courage to feel


Feeling sad takes courage. There's an instinct to numb it and distract ourselves from it whenever possible. My experience, though, is that allowing safe space for it to fully surface is the only real way for it to work through our system. It's the only real way for us to feel the authentic sweetness of emotions and experiences that exist on the other side. Go read @saspetherick ’s article about just this: Every bit is gold. (Thank you, Sas, for the gift of your words!)
What emotion is hardest for you to feel —
to make a space and let it be within you?

In my family recently, there has been a place of sadness.  As unwelcome as the situation and feelings seemed at first, I was also aware of an invitation to simply be with what I was feeling: to make a space. I did not want to react, justify, explain, or hide. I wanted to be still and notice whatever was there to notice, to feel whatever there was to feel.
After some quiet time, I became aware of a shimmering around the edges of my sadness, and I wondered, “What is that light?” I continued to sit and be… but now I was intrigued as well as sad and anxious.
While the sad situation seemed to close one door, the shimmering felt like a small open window, letting in light and fresh air.
I am not usually patient for multiple feelings to be present at the same time. I like it to be one way or the other – and hopefully the most positive feeling. If it is a negative feeling, I want to figure it out, do what needs to be done, and get on with it (my “real” life :).

But this invitation was more gentle: just be with it all. See what there is to see. Feel what there is to feel. And when it is time, be willing to release the feeling and let it flow through. Which is how Grace works… I could not do this on my own. It is all gift.

The shimmering light at the edge of my sadness seems like the sun’s corona visible in a solar eclipse. The corona is the outermost part of the Sun’s atmosphere and always present, yet it is hidden by the bright light of the Sun’s surface. But it can be seen during a total solar eclipse. When I could allow darkness of my sadness to simply be, I was able to notice the shimmering surrounding me.

Feelings are simply part of being human, and allowing them to come and go, can sometimes take patience and courage. Yet our feelings can be helpful guides as we pay attention to how God is leading and inviting us. Even in what feels like a darker experience or feeling, there is ever-present Light encircling us, holding us.

I am reminded of the following poem by Rumi, a Sufi poet, called “The Guest House.”
What would it be like for you to be grateful for these unexpected “visitors” trusting they may be your guides?
May you be blessed with courage to feel what needs to be felt, and then, with God’s abundant Grace, let it flow…
in peace and love~

*illustration at the top of post by Kristin Noelle –

4 thoughts on “the courage to feel

  1. jedwar02

    Thank you, Donna, for this invitation to sit with our feelings. I too prefer to run away from doubts and sadness. And this running generates so much anxiety. But the light of God’s love is embracing us always. I have loved this poem from Rumi. Perhaps during these days of Thanksgiving I can sit with my feelings and discover gratitude for all of them.

    1. Joan

      “Be grateful for whatever comes..” Sometimes I may not realize or see the ‘guidance’ in THIS lifetime. That is painful, but there are lots of ‘new arrivals’ in life that we must wait upon to understand. Oh to meet them laughing at the door! 🙏🏼

    2. ghlstn Post author

      John, it is good to stop running when we can, isn’t it? To pause, and feel, and move on… and perhaps to notice the Light that is always embracing us. Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

  2. linhankgraham

    I awoke this morning feeling such guilt weighing on me, things I didn’t say or do yesterday with family. Thank you, Donna, for this poem that asks us to sit with these negative feelings and be reminded of God’s love and grace to us.


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