As a kid, I loved to play with the hose in the yard on a warm summer day. It was fun to create kinks in the hose, causing the water to slow down or completely stop flowing. And when we released those kinks, the force of the water was strong for a while before adjusting back to normal.
Sometimes, I think I create an emotional kink in my heart, holding a lot of emotion within my heart and not allowing anything out. I remember discussing this once in a small group at my church. We read a story about a woman who had a miscarriage in the bathroom and proceeded to go out on stage and give a talk. This woman’s story was familiar to me. I am one who knows how to hold in a lot of emotion to get the “thing” done. But doing this, for me at least, is as much a problem as it is a strength.
When we keep that kink in the hose so long, we create too much pressure. It starts coming out in other ways. The area near the faucet may begin to leak or the hose itself will tear and leak. And similarly, when we hold in our emotions too long, we create too much pressure in our bodies and our hearts. Those built-up emotions may create a tear and come out sideways, causing us to lash out at other things. Or they may end up making us physically ill as we see with so many stress-related illnesses.
As we saw last week with the reaction to Simone Biles need to withdraw from competition to manage her mental health, our society doesn’t do well with allowing people to take care of their emotions. So many were frustrated by her decision, stating that she owed it to the team to continue to go on. But at what cost? For me, I know that years of continuing to perform and meet others’ expectations has done damage to my heart. I wish I had the courage Simone Biles showed, the courage to take the time I needed to deal with the emotional pressure that had built up.
In the winter, we turn off the water to our outside faucets. Otherwise, they might freeze and cause lots of damage. I think I’ve done something similar in my heart. Rather than taking the time to unkink the hose and deal with the built-up emotion, I have turned off the source – or at least turned it into a trickle, only allowing drops through. This meant that I didn’t have to deal with the difficult emotions, but it also meant not experiencing the pleasant ones.
This past year and a half, I’ve been drawn to certain words – desire, yearning, longing, connection. I wonder if the magnetic pull of those words has been in some ways a pull for me to turn the faucet back on, to allow passion to flow through my veins again. This means facing all of those things long buried – both good and bad – disappointment, loss, desire, yearning, regret. And I’ve found some of those things welling up inside of my heart this past year, emotions forgotten yet familiar. And sometimes, I have found myself unable to bear the pressure of it. And at these times, I am trying not to create kinks or turn off the water. Instead, I am trying to learn to take the time I need to deal with the emotional pressure that builds up at times. I am trying to avoid my tendency to think them away and instead, trying to sit with them, recognizing that sometimes they may have a story to tell me but other times they are just meant to be held.