In my work with people, I have begun to find themes that permeate the hearts of the souls that come in and out of my office. These souls have taught me that humans have A LOT of fears…like A LOT.
I have witnessed how these fears can transfuse into walls and barricades surrounding a human heart protecting it from its very Self. Some people have described their grief or sadness to me as a weight on their back, a snowball that keeps building, or a dark cloud that follows them around.
Which leads me to ask, “What keeps you from turning to your fearful heart and facing your grief?” And I hear answers like these:
“I’m afraid if I start to feel my sadness it will never stop.”
“I don’t want to be a Debbie downer.”
“I don’t want to be a burden.”
“I don’t want my sadness to be my identity.”
“I fear being weak.”
“It’s in the past, and there is no point in feeling it now.”
We human beings know the sound of this voice so well. The protective gatekeeper who keeps the cloud behind us and the snowball from running us over; who keeps us from being seen as weak or a burden.
After some work in knowing our own story, we discover that this voice is within us for a reason. It has served a heroic purpose at certain times in our lives, but most people who come into my office have reached the point where the pain of letting this controlling voice run their lives has become greater than the fear of listening to a new whisper called freedom.
I recently got married in April and have been surprised by the amount of grief that I have felt through this transition of eternal commitment, life change, and being loved for who I am.
We got back from our honeymoon, and I was driving myself back to my new home to be with my new husband. As I turned onto my new street, I called my good friend. I told her how scared I was and asked her a rhetorical question that I thought I knew the answer to but needed to hear her say anyway. As I pulled into the driveway, I said, “I’m going to be okay, right?” but she didn’t say what I thought she would. She said, “You need to share your heart with him. Tell him about your fear and sadness. It’s not going to be comfortable, and he is probably going to have feelings, but you need to share yourself with him because you guys are in this together now.”
As I pulled up and parked my car into my new driveway, My new husband was on the porch of our new house waiting, looking at me through my car window. With my friend still on the line, I said, “Okay, he is looking at me.” And then there was a pause, a weighty stillness, before I finally declared, “Okay, I am going in,” announced like a warrior going into battle. My friend had placed inside of me the courage I needed for it to not be okay and be okay all at the same time.
I cried my eyes out the first night of our married life at home. I was sad about the roommates and life I had left at my old home, and I was sad to be leaving the first quarter of my life as a single woman. I was scared because I had never made a home with someone before and had been carrying so much desire to do so. I felt so far from the land of the known. From the moment I stepped out of my car, my feet were on new soil. Unmarked territory.
It was a lonely walk that night. Yet in the walking and turning to myself, the ground became holy and sacred and a piece of it became known. My tears became a balm to my anxious heart, and they created a fertile, honoring space for me to be known and loved in my new home with my new husband.
As humans, we can easily put a wall up and choose to protect ourselves and others. We can easily keep walking on our known soil with our known outcomes. There are gifts in creating a home for yourself where there is no need for protection from yourself. Your feelings are not a disease but a pathway to you, to others and to God. Some days you might find that they lead you upon the most sacred of soils. Your tears may lead you to the very ground that your feet have tried to forget, but your heart hasn’t been able to stop hoping really exists.
Kate Prevost is a therapist at Sage Hill Counseling in Nashville, TN. She was led to Sage Hill through her own personal story of recovery and interned for a year and a half while earning her Masters in Counseling at Trevecca Nazarene University.