Nurse Wisdom from the ICU at OHSU (4.25.19)
Rev. Dr. Steven Koski
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“You can yell at me. I promise I won’t yell back. If you don’t find a healthy way to express all that’s building up inside you you will explode. It’s ok not to be ok. You need to give yourself permission to feel what you are feeling – not what you think you are supposed to feel, but what you actually feel. There are no wrong emotions. There is no right way to feel in a situation like this. It’s just important to feel and express your feelings. Please don’t numb, repress or medicate your feelings. They will leak out. So, go ahead, scream at me if you want. I won’t scream back.”
Jesus cried in anguish, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Who hasn’t prayed that pray silently or out loud? Our screams may be the most honest and helpful prayers we can pray. We are told in scripture that the prayers that are too deep even for words and come out in sighs, groans and screams is where the Spirit meets us.
Faith isn’t an epidural meant to numb our pain or a magic pill that eliminates our pain. Faith is the container that holds even the ugliest emotions. Faith is trusting the promise there is treasure to be found if we’re willing to explore the ruins. Expressing our emotions is a spiritual practice bringing into light that which likes to hide in shame and fear. Our feelings don’t have to be understood but they need to be expressed. Richard Rohr says, “Pain that is not transformed is transmitted.”
It’s ok not to be ok. Lean into your pain. Let it out. Scream. Weep. Write. Run. Paint. Question. Ask for help. All of this is prayer.
Whether it be anger, sadness, fear, grief, rage , or any other emotion that seems larger than you today, don’t fight it or let it settle into your bones. Lean into your pain with tenderness. Let it move through you like a storm moves across the summer sky.
Thich Nhat Hanh wrote, “Do not fight against pain. Embrace your pain with great tenderness, as though you were embracing a little baby. Your anger is yourself, and you should not be violent toward it or ignore it. The same thing goes for all of your emotions.”
So, go ahead, scream at me. I promise I won’t scream back.