My Friday religion column in Today’s Jan. 5, 2007, Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette, is titled: "2007’s the time to leave the land of numb."
Everyone will feel two kinds of emotions this year — painful and positive. Those are the only two kinds there are. Lonely, confused, humiliated — painful, of course. Refreshed, encouraged, loved — positive, yes. You get it.
The key Bible verse to this whole arena of good emotional health is Romans 12:15: "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn."
I am challenging myself, and all my friends, to try and always respond with the proper kind of emotion. When we do, whether the emotions are positive or painful, those we encounter ultimately will feel blessed.
Here’s how I described it in my column:
Let’s say your daughter bounds into the room and says she made the volleyball team. You rejoice. Period. You don’t say, “Wow, are you the best player?” You merely say, “Way to go, baby. I’m so proud of you.” That girl will feel very blessed because you emotionally entered in with the positive emotions she is feeling – joy.
On the other hand, if your daughter just got cut from the team, you don’t rejoice. You mourn. Period. You don’t say, “Oh, that’s okay, doll. You’ll have lots more opportunities.” That’s not mourning and it’s not listening. That’s interrupting. It’s preaching, and it’s fixing. And that’s the last thing she needs. What you do say is simply: “Oh honey, I’m so sorry.”
And then you hold your daughter, if she’ll let you, and you practice reflective listening. If she says, “It’s not fair,” you respond by saying something like, “You don’t think it’s fair.” You enter in and feel her disappointment. You allow yourself to grieve.
If you learn to respond with the proper kind of emotion – with empathy in this case – you’ll discover that you have the ability to not only discern emotions in others but to experience within yourself the same emotion, and that’s healthy.
And that daughter of yours who is experiencing very painful emotions will feel blessed because you emotionally entered in. Your empathy will bless her in the exact same way your rejoicing blesses her.
To really feel blessed, we all need people who will rejoice with us and people who will mourn with us. So why not enter in this year. Practice saying phrases like, "I’m so sorry," when the emotional you encounter is painful. And when the emotion is positive you try and sweep people off their feet by appreciating them, showing them attention and supporting them.
Let’s all have a Happy New Year. We can if we willingly emotionally enter in. So go ahead. Feel sad. Feel mad. Feel scared. Feel joy. Do all you can to feel what others are feeling, and work like crazy to get out and stay out of the land of numb.