Don’t Tell Me How to Feel

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If you are going to tell me how I SHOULD be feeling– there’s a good possibility that I’ll want to throat chop you.

Sounds kinda harsh, Holly. Did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed? Got your panties in a twist? Forgot to drink your cup of coffee today?

Want to know what sounds harsh to ME??

Someone thinking they have the right or the God given responsibility to tell another person how they SHOULD feel. The thing about feelings is that they vary from person to person. So, even if two people experience similar situations or circumstances those two people can feel two totally different ways. Most of the time though, I’ve found that the person telling me how I should feel hasn’t experienced the same thing as me, but wants to be helpful.

Let me give you some personal examples:

I’m 30 years old and single. Please don’t tell me that I shouldn’t be sad, discouraged or angry. I don’t care if you’re 80 and still single or have been married since you were 18– there are days I’m going to grieve my singleness. There are going to be days that I feel like I’m going to be single forever. And there are most certainly days when I’m angry about it. Angry at God (as silly and stupid as that may be). Angry at myself for whatever fault I think it is keeping me this way. Or angry at you because you’re NOT single.

Nothing pisses me off more (seriously though) than someone who’s been married forever telling me how I should feel as a single person. It’s like nails on a chalk board annoying.

Another huge area people like to give the should/shouldn’t feeling guidelines in is grief. I lost someone very dear to my heart 7 years ago. Each day has not made that loss any easier.

Not one ounce easier.

In fact, some days it is harder. Much, MUCH harder.

“But, Holly, you said it was over 7 years ago. You shouldn’t still be grieving. Get over it.”

Let me give you some insight into grief, if you’ve never lost someone that you loved very much. Time does not make that loss easier because everyday takes you one day farther from the last time you were with them. One day farther from the last time you felt their embrace. One day farther from the sound of their voice on the other end of the phone. It means you’re not able to experience things with them that you were hoping to or celebrate milestones you thought they’d be present for.

I know some of you may be thinking one of the following:

  • She must be exaggerating or misinterpreting what people say.
  • She must be super sensitive.
  • People are right.
  • Holly is bitter. To this one I say, there is a difference between bitterness and passion and this is one of those circumstances where my passion for a topic may come across sounding bitter.

Even if any of the previous statements were true, and they may be, I still don’t think it gives a person a right to tell me how to feel.

There is no “right” or “wrong” way to feel because feelings are subjective.

It’s OK to feel angry. Being angry is NOT a sin. Don’t believe me? Check out Ephesians 4:26. By the way, Jesus got angry. He got angry at those prostituting the temple and at the Pharisees for their hardened hearts. Being angry, in an of itself, is not a sin.

It’s OK to feel disappointment.

It’s OK to feel sad.

It’s OK to feel excited. Ya, there are even some people who like to rain on other’s parades and tell them they shouldn’t be happy or excited about something because it might not work out like they had hoped.

When we tell someone how they should feel we are shaming them. We are classifying their feelings as illegitimate and that’s got to stop. It’s fine if you don’t understand the feelings or can’t relate to them most of the time, as I’ve stated in my previous blog post (Cliches, Platitudes & Useless Advice), people just want a listening ear. They want to be heard and loved regardless of whatever feelings they may be having.

So, no more “shoulds”, okay? I’m not afraid to use that throat chop, if I need to–just don’t make me. 😉

 

 

 

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Cliches, Platitudes & Useless Advice

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Let’s pretend for a moment that you were having a hard time.

Not that YOU would ever have a hard time, but humor me anyway.

Maybe you received a test result from a doctor that you weren’t expecting. Maybe you’ve been searching for a job for months with nothing to show for it. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one. Maybe your spouse decided they didn’t love you anymore. Maybe your favorite shirt shrunk in the dryer. Or maybe your favorite TV show has been cancelled.

Sure, there’s some extremes there, but each one is legitimate in its own right. I promise I will do my best not to judge you and your struggle, and I’m begging you to return the favor. It’s a very prideful person that would decipher  who is “allowed” to be hurting/struggling and who isn’t. I think we could all admit we don’t fully understand another person’s struggles simply because we haven’t lived that person’s life.

Now that we’ve got that groundwork laid, I think it’s important to share some advice with you.

Stop giving advice. (See what I did there?)

Stop with the cliches.

Stop with the cute sayings with floral backgrounds you found on Pinterest. (Things will be OK in the end. If they’re not OK, it’s not the end…This one makes me with it were the end!)

Stop with the “Christianese” answers. (God will never give you more than you can handle– wrong.)

Or the “You should read this book”. (It’ll just get added to the stack)

Keep reading, I promise I’ll clear some things up.

I’ve given you my “NOT-TO-DO” list, but you may be wondering: So what DO you want people to do, Holly?!?

I’m glad you asked!

Listen.

Love.

And if they’re into that kind of thing give them a hug. 🙂 Maybe they’d prefer a high-five, or an awkward side hug, or an arm squeeze.

Listening seems pretty straight forward, but I fear it may need some clarifying. It doesn’t mean listening with one ear and doing a mental “Google search” for some trite response. I’ve done that before, I’ll admit it. I’ll be listening to a friend who is telling me how how they’re hurting and my brain will pick up on a key word/theme and then I start thinking of every book, Scripture verse, or Snapple fact I’ve read that could possibly relate to the situation.

Just listen. Hand them a tissue if they start to tear up. Look them in the eyes. Really listen.

Now for the love part. This part is a little bit more tricky because each person is different and receives love in different ways. If they’ve told you about a physical pain, instead of just saying “I’ll be praying for you!” actually pray for them. Ya, like right there. I don’t care that it’s the ice cream aisle at the grocery store. If they’ve told you they’re struggling financially, send them a gift card in the mail or hand them a 20 spot. If they’re lonely, call them up a few days later and ask them if they’d like to get a coffee.

Or, simply tell them you love them and you care.

As I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again and again, as Christians we don’t have to have ALL the answers. Yes, God, Jesus the Bible and all the Sunday School answers are easy to spew out, as a cover-up when a simple “I don’t know” would be more honest.

I don’t know why you aren’t married yet.

I don’t know why you have cancer.

I don’t know why that person said that hurtful thing.

Also, and maybe this is just a personality thing, but sometimes just hearing someone say they love me brings some comfort. I’m a “words of affirmation” girl, with “Gifts of Chocolate” as a close second. 😉

And if during the week, there’s a Bible verse that you think would give them hope, by all means share it with them. I’m not saying *all* advice/encouragement is useless. Just the thoughtless kind.

Don’t give out dimes by the dozen when a person needs a treasure to hold onto.

 

What My Dad Has Taught Me

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My dad is an amazing man and I’m not just saying that because Father’s Day is a few days away either.

I mean, the man has got more hobbies than people half his age (myself included). Within the past 5 years, he’s picked up new ones including Bee Keeping and Maple Syrup making. Add those to what he’s already been doing as long as I can remember: hunting, fishing, gardening, wood splitting…and just about anything and everything else.

In typical dad fashion, he’s done his very best to teach me everything he knows. Including how to filet a fish, kill a woodchuck, use a chainsaw and weed the garden. I haven’t always appreciated my “free lessons”, but I’ve learned, with time, to love them.

I still remember the night my dad needed my sister and me to help him hang a deer he got that day while hunting. My brother was unable to help him, so we suited up (in my dad’s camo overalls and hunting gear) and learned a new skill, while erupting into fits of laughter. The deer got hung, and no one ralphed– so I went ahead and added it to my list of skill sets.

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He also taught me how to use a chainsaw and has lovingly nicknamed me Chainsaw #2 when we’re out working. This has been one of my favorite lessons so far because now I have lifetime bragging rights. I mean, a woman who is good looking AND knows how to use a chainsaw– what a catch!

There’s skills that I hadn’t been particularly happy about learning. Like the Saturdays he’d enlist us to weed his garden. But now, I’ll gladly spend a few hours pulling weeds for him. He usually pays me in veggies, which just so happens to be one of the perks of the job.

All this stuff is great, and I’m extremely grateful for the skills my dad has taught me, but there’s nothing like the lessons I’ve learned that go beyond a new talent.

The greatest lesson my dad has taught me is: love.

At the age of 13, I needed a home and he gave me one. Even more than I needed a roof over my head, I needed a dad.

You see, up until then, I had been living in a house that didn’t feel very safe or very loving. I lived with a lot of fear and anxiety and not a whole lot of positive male interaction, to say the least.

I’m grateful that God answered the nightly prayers of a broken little girl when she prayed: “Jesus, please save me from this” by using this man as rescuer.

It’s been 17 years since my dad chose to call me his daughter and that will always be one of the greatest gifts God has ever given me. As Christians, we talk a lot about how God IS love and all of that, but I think sometimes we forget that He shows us that love (much of the time) through other people. In my life, there is no one who has shown me more of that love than my dad. When he took me in, I was a wounded little girl. My heart a broken heap within my chest, and he loved me through all the pain.

He’s prayed me through every crisis, been a voice of wisdom in the midst of hard life decisions and he’s been there to share in my triumphs.

I’ve got many more lessons to learn from my dad, but am thankful for what I’ve learned: that river swings don’t have age limits, bonfires should always include s’mores, you “can’t hurt steel”….

….and love.

You never know the impact that love will have or the life it will save.

 

 

 

 

 

5 Moments I Hate Being Single the Most

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I can see that look in your eye. Before you start whipping out some well-intentioned encouragement make sure it didn’t make it to this list first. Also, as I have stated previously there are TONS of singleness perks, but this week I’ve been reminded of some of the not-so-sweet moments of singleness.

Moment #1: When I’m sick and there’s no one to pity me and take care of me

All I want is for someone else to get up and get me another box of tissues or to fill up my water glass so I can lay here and bemoan how much I hate being sick. Thank God, I have a best friend who drops off medicine and sends me a “You still alive?” text, but its not the same. I want someone to snuggle up to me and my mound of used tissues while we watch the entire Season 1 of Sherlock Holmes.

Maybe if I had someone to take care of me I’d be getting better, quicker. I don’t know. Just a thought. 😉

Moment #2: Going to events solo

In a moment of sheer stupidity, I RSVP’d “yes” to a wedding knowing full well I’d be rolling in solo. I think I was just excited to have mail that wasn’t another bill or politician lobbying for my vote that I forgot how uncomfortable it is to show up alone. I will, of course, know people there, but those first few nail biting moments when you walk through the door searching for a friendly face is the worst. You’re hoping to find someone…ANYONE…to talk to– even that annoying guy who you’ve tried to avoid once (or twice) before.

If no friendly face is found, the phone becomes your only hope. I begin texting every single one of my contacts in hopes that someone will reply and I’ll at least get to have a conversation with someone. Albeit someone not in the same room, but I’ll take what I can get.

It’s not only weddings, though. That one may be the most obvious answer, but there’s others. Like that day I was craving Chimichangas and decided eating at the local Mexican Restaurant alone would be no big deal. It was rough. Even the waiter had this look of pity in his eyes. Next time, I’ll just take a sad Taco Bell drive thru substitute instead.

Moment #3: Holidays

I’m not just talking about the BIG ones– like at Christmas when you’re drinking Egg Nog and listening to your Grandma tell you for the hundredth time how you’re “going to find a good man one day”. Or when the balls drops on New Years and you’re left taking a very long sip of your champagne (or soda or whatever) until everyone comes up for air and a “HAPPY NEW YEAR!!” cheer.

No, I’m not talking about those holidays.

I’m talking about the long weekend holidays– like Memorial Day or Labor Day. The majority of your friends are planning BBQ’s or hikes at local State Parks and you’re just hoping one of them remembers to call and invite you over. Thankfully, I do have friends who remember me, but sometimes being squished between two car seats gets you thinking that maybe you need to try that online dating site one more time.

Moment #4: Going to bed

During the summer I get this awesome opportunity to be a Camp Counselor for a week. I get my little “flock” of girls that follow me every where I go. At bedtime, I turn out all the lights except for the Christmas lights I’ve strung around the ceiling. We share funny stories or things we’ve been struggling through. Sometimes they ask me to share stories. So far, their favorite stories are of my “worst dates”. These stories usually leave them in an uproar. Through chuckles they try to get out the words, “Did that really happen?!” And I have to tell them it did…and they laugh even harder.

Then, like a modern version of the The Waltons, each girl tells me “Goodnight!” and we drift off to sleep each one wearing a smile.

For the other 51 weeks out of my year, my bedtime routine is much less fun. It usually involves one last chap stick application, my bedside lamp turned off and the glow of my phone as I check social media sites one last time.

Sure, I get the whole bed to myself, but where’s the fun in that?

Moment #5: At church

Sunday mornings may be my biggest struggle in regards to my singleness.

Firstly, I still sit with my parents. While this is MY choice, everyone else is sitting with their families so it would seem like the right thing to do. I remember being in high school, all of us teenagers would sit together and make whispered remarks….until we got the look from our parents. Then, we’d shut up for fear that they’d make us sit with them as punishment. Apparently, being single at 30 means I willingly choose what was once considered punishment for lack of better options.

But it’s the cuteness of my parents that kills me. Every Sunday, without fail, my dad leans over to my mom and tells her she looks beautiful and then gives her a kiss. My parents have given me an amazing example of a godly marriage and I am very thankful for it. Honestly, they’re the best! So good in fact that I’d like a marriage like that of my own.

Then, there are the dear wonderful church ladies telling me I won’t be single forever. That I’ve still got time (like I’ve got a “freshest by” date stamped on me– Marry before 12/12/17) and all the other things people say to encourage the poor single people.

I promise, this isn’t turning into a blog about my singleness. It’s just what has been on my mind lately and I’d rather share honest feelings than something contrived. Thanks for sharing in the laughs with me! 🙂