Story time. I am by no means from a male-chauvinist family, but men and women definitely have defined gender roles in our house. My brothers cut the grass, I clean bathrooms. We appreciate each others’ differences and the way God made us. We have also had some crazy dinner table conversations. One in particular I’ll never forget.
My next-youngest brother and I were both in high school at the time. I don’t remember what led to this conversation, but my brother just looked at me and very bluntly said, “Em, seriously. Name one good thing about being a girl. There’s nothing. You have to wait for guys to ask you to marry them, make supper every night and give birth.” Thanks James. You are so sensitive. I literally could not think of an answer for him. What’s good about being a girl that a guy would actually agree with? “Yeah, well, you get to wear pretty things!” I eventually volunteered. From the look on his face, that was a weak point.
Enter my father. “I can think about one good thing about being a girl,” he said. My brother started laughing. “Yeah, one good thing.”
“Now, hold on a minute. There is a good thing. Girls are very good at expressing their emotions.” My brother started laughing. I just stared at my dad. “Dad. Being emotional is not a good thing!” I replied, shocked that my father would even propose such an idea. Where does he get this stuff? Girls are made fun of for crying at any commercial involving puppies, overreacting to seemingly harmless comments, and worrying needlessly about relationships—romantic and otherwise.
My dad explained that guys need to be able to communicate the way they feel and girls naturally do that very well (in general).
So, ladies: believe it or not, your emotions are a good thing. God created them, and God doesn’t make junk. In the ESV version, Genesis 2:18 says, “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’” We were made to be good for man. We were created to be a blessing. Of course, we are fallen; we are not perfect. But that doesn’t mean that God did not create us well.
There is a downside to emotions though: they can get out of control. Many of us know this all too well. We get over-dramatic and overreact to things that are not necessary to react to. I have had friends tell me about a “deep” conversation they had with their boyfriends over a really, really minor issue. “I just had to tell them how I feel. I needed to be honest,” they tell me later.
Yes, you need to be honest. But does it really matter if your boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend from grade nine liked his latest Instagram photo? No, it doesn’t.
Ladies, here’s the thing. Some of us are more emotional than others. We all have emotions—good and bad—but some show those emotions more than others. Personally, I rarely cry. If I do, it’s because I am really upset (usually about an injustice—I cry out of anger). My mom, on the other hand, will cry at a commercial that tugs on the heartstrings. I also am a type-A personality, so when I allow myself to cry, I feel weak, and that scares me. I lived my all my teenage years thinking that showing emotion was a bad thing, and I repressed my emotions. That was not a good thing. Don’t do that!
When I buried my emotions, they came out in other ways: being generally grumpy with everyone, overreacting at little things, and saying hurtful things to other people. If I just told people how I was feeling, this wouldn’t be an issue!
So how do we deal with our emotions in a healthy way?
Starting with prayer may seem cliché, but it is necessary. Tell God how you are feeling and do a heart check to make sure your emotions aren’t born out of selfishness or pride. Ask God to show you if it’s your personal issue or if you need to talk to someone about it.
Talk about it.
And by “talk about it”, I do not mean text your five closest girlfriends and vent about how your boyfriend had a guys’ night instead of talking to you on the phone. Venting is gossip and doesn’t actually help. Talking about it means going to the person that you have the issue with and saying plainly how you feel. “When you did ________, it made me feel ________.” Once I was really upset with my boyfriend and I couldn’t even talk about it because I needed to figure out what exactly I was feeling first. Then when I did talk to him (the next day), and told him how I felt, he was really surprised that that’s how I felt. It was really hard to be honest, but once we understood each other, we became closer. That brings me to another point. If you need some time to find the words for your emotions, that’s fine, but don’t let it drag on forever. Communicate with the other person: “I don’t have the words for what I’m feeling right now, but I will talk to you tomorrow at [set a time].” Setting a definite time helps to keep you accountable and doesn’t allow you to suppress those emotions.
Once you’ve talked about the issue, move on. Don’t dwell on what happened! Forgive and move forward. Dwelling on an issue is selfish and hurts your relationship. There comes a point when you need to decide that the relationship with the other person is more important than your emotions. Ask God to help you move on and have a healthy relationship. Rely on Him and He won’t fail you!
Those are my tips on dealing with your emotions in a healthy way. What do you do to help you deal with your emotions? Do you tend to suppress or exaggerate your emotions? I’d love to hear your thoughts!