This past year has been an emotional one. I started 2015 very pregnant and very seriously counting down the days left in my pregnancy. My body was housing hormones I didn't know existed, and my body was a complete stranger to the one I had known. I was uncomfortable, self-conscious, anxious and impatient. We welcomed our baby boy into the world at the end of January and with him came a tsunami of emotions. I was over-joyed, but the pain of childbirth and the months to come of self-loathing and discomfort seemed to slowly take hold of me. My body was not what it used to be and with the grieving came self-pity. And then the fog began to clear for a few months while I began to see improvements. But just as quickly as the sunshine came, the disparity came right back.
I decided to write about emotion because I have learned so much about what it means to be a woman of faith despite my emotions. I think a lot of women have experienced teasing, mockery or rolled eyes when it comes to feeling. Most times, if not all times in good fun, but if I'm being honest, too often I find myself relying on my feelings to get me somewhere.
About 9 months after my son was born, I met up with a close friend just because I knew I needed company. My husband was out of town for work and these were often times where I felt sorry for myself or just felt lonely. As we walked, I became very teary eyed, as I told her I had spent the entire day crying. When she asked me "why", I had no explanation. We concluded that my exhaustion, from spending 9 months waking up 2-3 times a night was no doubt the cause of my emotional break down.
Later that week I sat reflecting on the emotional roller coaster I felt I had been on. I realized in my happy highs, I was failing to acknowledge God's goodness, and had not been rejoicing in Him. My highs were based on feelings and moments where I gave myself credit for whatever accomplishments I made that day. Likewise, I realized my darkest days were rooted in self-pity and my abandonment of a good God. The emotional roller coaster I had been on, had left God behind. He wasn't there for the ups, and He wasn't there for the downs. And not because He didn't want to be, but because I hadn't let Him. I had taken this journey of motherhood and walked it on my own, leaving Him behind.
It seems so clear to me now, that no wonder I was an unpredictable ball of emotion waiting to explode with happiness or sadness at any moment. Now, I hope I do not communicate poorly here, because emotion is a beautiful thing. Music evokes emotion in a way nothing else can, emotion is meant to be felt as we grieve the loss of a loved one, emotions are meant to be enjoyed when we reunite with loved ones. Emotion is good. What I have learned about myself though, as a young Christian woman who happens to be a wife and mother, is that I have allowed my emotions to rule me and govern every aspect of my life. I chalked up my grumpiness to sleepless nights and blamed my short-temper on "having to do everything myself" (which by the way is the farthest thing from the truth. I have an unreal husband who cooks and cleans better than I do, and who never seems to tire of playing with our son). I had absentmindedly allowed my emotions to dictate my daily attitude and behaviours and that is a dangerous place to be.
About a week after I went for a walk with that friend, I took a good hard look at what was happening and felt like someone had lifted the fog. As a Christian, I believe the truth that says we are to be ambassadors of love and in doing so we are to be self-controlled in our behaviours. Galations 5:22-23 says " But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, against such things there is no law ". As in, these are the behaviours that should govern our lives! Likewise, Romans 8:9a says "You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you ". We have the Spirit of GOD living is us! If only I allowed Him to act more often, I believe I would be much more loving towards others, my husband and son included. And while it is inevitable that our emotions occasionally get the better of us (in joy, sorrow, anger) we, as Christians, must do our best to remember we are not slaves to our emotions. We have the power to feel emotion with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control guiding us. My prayer going forward from here is that I would learn to rely more on God and less on my feelings to get me through each day.
Rochelle Bragg lives in Mississauga, Ontario.
You can keep up with Rochelle's work on her website Iron & Bragg Photography.
Rochelle has been married to Andrew for almost four years and is mom to one-year old Emerson.