Ever have one of those stop in your tracks moment? I had one today. My class is doing a book study of the book The Tiger Rising. The main character is a 6th grade boy who stuffs all his feelings in a "suitcase" after his mother's death and his father and him move to a new place, living in a motel. He starts to develop a friendship with a new, strange girl at school.
Today I asked the kids to answer this question. "Why did Rob feel hope, need, and fear when he thought of a friend"? They spent some time thinking about the question and then wrote down evidence from the book to back up their thinking. Then they shared with each other before I asked if anyone wanted to share with the class.
One of them mentioned that Rob was scared of having a friend because he had stuffed all his feelings in his suitcase and he didn't want to let them out. Another student said something similar and the conversation continued along those lines.
Then I said the words that stopped me in my tracks. I said, "Rob believes that if he can stuff those feelings away he won't be sad. What he doesn't realize is that but stuffing those feelings inside he is actually more sad than if he let them out." Yup! I actually had to pause half way through that and realize that I needed to take those words to heart.
I used to be a suitcase, feeling stuffer as well. I believed, like Rob, that if I just stuffed those feelings down and didn't let anyone in then I wouldn't be sad. Maybe that is why I like this book so much. Maybe it's because I see so much of me in Rob.
Thankfully, God did a work, a long painful work, that helped me to open up that suitcase. I started to feel and it hurt so much! I had to let god deal with all those hurts and painful feelings. I cried every day for a year, but it was so good. I knew it was a healing process. I started to let others in and even though I had relationships that led to me being hurt I also had relationships that brought me happiness and ones that still bring me happiness.
This past week I have a had a hard time. Ever feel like everything comes crashing down at once? That kind of week. I found myself getting sadder and sadder. I found it hard to pray. Hard to read my Bible. Hard to even smile. All I wanted to do was cry ad I don't like to do that either, part of that suitcase stuffing thing.
Then today I did something hard for me. In a message I asked a friend to pray for me. Then she asked if I wanted to talk about it. I didn't, but I had to. I knew I had to. I told her part, a big part, of what I needed prayer for. Do you know what happened? I felt a weight lifted off of me. I felt like I had opened up that suitcase and let out what I was stuffing.
I am so thankful to the love and care of good friends. I am so thankful for a family that loves me and prays for me. I am so thankful I have a Father who loves me, prunes me, and rejoices over me with singing!