Tonight I picked up a book which I had read before, "Who Switched off My Brain?" by Dr. Caroline Leaf, and began to skim through it when something particular caught my eye.
"The important thing to be aware of here is that suppressed emotional pain does not just disappear. It can turn into lingering physical pain. We should never tell boys not to show their tears and make comments like 'cowboys don't cry.' Just like adults when children suppress their feelings, it affects their physical well-being. Dealing with toxic thoughts is not a luxury; it's a necessity. You can pretend and bury your emotions, but you need to know that you are burying something that remains alive and can affect your physical health for years to come."
Let me share an analogy with you here to help you understand and, forgive me, but it actually came to me through a Randy Travis song, "Diggin up Bones." If a dog buries a bone in a yard it will remain there until it is dug up. Trees can grow around it and sidewalks can be placed on top, but the bone will remain where it was buried.
Now, you will have to use your imagination for a moment but our thoughts are like bones. If we bury them inside, they will always remain there unless we dig them up. However, unlike bones, our thoughts are alive and can effect our physical bodies even if we don't realize they are still buried within. This means that if the thoughts we buried were positive then our bodies will reap life-giving results from them; but, if the buried thoughts were negative or toxic thoughts then they can cause all kinds of problems and illnesses in our bodies throughout our entire lives.
This is why God will send us into a similar situation, relationship, or experience that will trigger these old buried memories, to give us chances to dig up our buried toxic thoughts and deal with them properly. When we get hurt, we will have negative emotions to deal with, that is a fact. No matter how much the world likes to teach us to act like things don't hurt and pretend we are fine, we cannot change the fact that we are human and we were born with feelings for a reason. And, we can run away and hide, but those bones are still in there no matter where we go. Out of sight might be out of mind, but just because the thoughts are no longer in your conscious mind does not mean they are not in your body. Years after something happens, a thought that you didn't even know existed can be triggered and the same old feelings associated with that thought will come flooding right back.
When I read the paragraph from the book, it made me think about Matthew 18:1-4 when Jesus said that we have to become as little children to inherit the kingdom. It got me thinking about how a young child or baby will just cry when they get hurt. If someone does something crappy to them, they let everyone know and they aren't afraid to do so.
Now, I don't believe we should go around throwing fits and disrespectfully telling off anyone who hurts our feelings, that would be the other extreme and completely lacking in self-control which is also unscriptural. However, there is a happy medium. We can't stop someone else from doing something awful to us and we can't stop our feelings from doing what they were naturally designed to do; but, we can refuse to bury the emotions. We can refuse to go through life pretending. We can refuse to be afraid of what others will think if we tell the truth or let down our guard. We can decide to work with God and allow Him to help us dig up these old thoughts and turn a previously toxic memory into a new, life-giving one.
Don't fall for the world's lie, letting the person who hurt us know that we are hurt does not make us weak, it makes us strong. A weak person puts up a wall and pretends in order to protect their self, a strong person is not afraid of being hurt again. Telling the truth makes us real. It makes us so confident in who we are that it doesn't matter if someone else knows what we are or aren't feeling or thinking. And, it is the only way we can ever have healthy, mutually satisfying relationships with others.