When it comes to emotions, I would like to think that I am quite the connoisseur. I’m an empath which means I sometimes feel all the feelings on behalf of someone else. I’m especially good at crying while watching random stranger’s videos on the internet (adoption videos and U.S. Marines surprising their families by jumping out of a box are my favourites).
The weird joke that my husband makes (you know, around the fire, at braais) is that his new business idea is to hire me out to funerals because I will easily bawl my eyes out at the graveside of someone that I’ve never met. (Rent-A-Mourner?)
I don’t mind being an empath, though. It’s a far cry (see what I did there) from the cold-hearted, unemotional specimen of a person that I use to be back in the day before (well, before I started crying while watching the results of random stranger’s gender reveals on Facebook.)
But being an empath can be a heavy burden to carry sometimes.
This was the case, about a year ago, when so many people were losing loved ones. It hit a peak (for me) when a good friend lost her beautiful young son. Yoh, the heartbreak was just unbearable. I went through a period of silent depression because I was just so deeply heartbroken at the thought of all of the pain that they were going through.
I remember laying in bed one morning, bawling my eyes out while watching video clips on the internet of a guy singing. I cried because I found out that the guy – this random stranger from America whom I had basically just discovered on the internet – was dead. But, friends, he died 4 years prior. (I know. When I tell this story to people now, I want to basically lmao and punch myself in the face, simultaneously. It’s the drama for me.)
It honestly didn’t matter that I did not know the dude personally or that it happened 4 years ago. It was fresh grief, to me, and ended up I bawling my eyes out for this beautiful stranger. I was absolutely broken.
And that is when I realised that the weight of all of the pain and heartbreak that I had been carrying for the past 2 years had finally split me open, causing every single emotion that I carry on behalf of others, to spill out. It came gushing out (basically manifesting as snot and tears… so, so much of snot and tears) and it rested on me like a heavy blanket of depression that I didn’t know how to get rid of.
I tried to shake it off, but it wouldn’t budge. The feeling of resolved sadness is so heavy… it’s almost as if your soul is heavy. I recognised it to be a feeling of pure hopelessness.
So I just cried. I cried for lives lost, I cried for families affected by Covid, I cried for orphaned children, and abandoned dogs, and pollution in the ocean and then eventually I cried because I was crying…
And I haven’t stopped crying since then.
Kidding – that would be a morbid way to end this blog post.
The truth is that I cried until all the tears were done. And then I got up, washed my face, and made a new commitment. A commitment to live with intentional hope and not with existential dread.
There is so much loss and devastation in the world and – spoiler alert – it’s not going anywhere, anytime soon. We are a broken people. To top it off, it is so easy to access news and information… which means we are constantly feeding “bad” or negative news to our brains. No wonder so many of us live with this spirit of hopelessness.
If you’re planting negative news in your brain every single day, you surely can’t be surprised that you will reap a harvest of negative feelings.
But guys, we have a living hope. We CAN live with great expectation because of the one who gives us life. God’s great plan for the world does not end in a negative space. He is simply too good to end it like that. Where is His glory in that? His promise is that He will make all things end in good. His promise is that everything serves a purpose… even pain. And His promise is that even in darkness, light dawns for the one who chooses Him.
Armed with those promises, I have been able to make a new heart decision that involves choosing to see the living hope in every loss. I mean, I still have a lot of feelings and that’s okay. But instead of allowing it to swallow me, I want to use it as a tool, you know, as a way to connect with others.
I’m sure that there are so many of you who may very well know that place of hopelessness and overwhelm that I was in… and I’m really sorry that you do. I’m sorry that you’ve experienced that kind of heartbreak. I’m not an expert on the topics of emotions or the human psyche, but I can promise you that there IS a glimmer of hope in every situation, no matter how bleak. Even if it means tilting your head to the side, and squinting your eyes ever so slightly, to see the hidden shimmer, trust me, it’s there. There can be no darkness without the very concept of light. Hope is on the horizon, waiting to be discovered.