To say that I wear my heart on my sleeve feels like a bit of an understatement. I have some big feelings. With that comes the caveat of tears—so many tears. They come when something really exciting happens in my life, when I am angry, and when my feelings are hurt. When God moves in His mighty ways, when my friends are hurting, and when I am overwhelmed with gratitude, I cry. This has always been my emotional response. As a kid, the label was “crybaby,” but growing up, I was labeled “too sensitive” and “dramatic.” At times these words were true, but the connotation of these labels made it seem like it was somehow wrong to feel. I had this sense that I should apologize for the way that I felt or for my tears. For a long time, my emotions were packed away, only to be opened in the confines of my bedroom.
It wasn’t until I sat in my therapist's office a few years ago that someone told me otherwise. As you can imagine, I cried a lot of tears in that office. It was truly liberating to have a space to process and emote without judgment. During one of the sessions, I said, “I am just too emotional.” My therapist sat back and gently corrected me saying, “You make decisions from an emotional place, you feel your emotions deeply, but you are not your emotions.” He went on to say, “Rachel, you come here and you cry buckets of tears and every time you leave stronger. You are much stronger than you think.”
Since that freeing day in therapy, there has been a shift in the way I see my emotions. Slowly, but surely I have begun to see that when felt in a healthy way, my emotions are more of an asset then anything else. I am able to empathize more with the people around me, leaving me better equipped to care for and love them. I have more space to be passionate about the things that set my soul ablaze like Jesus and GRIT. It has allowed me to be a better leader, giving me more space to be all that God has created me to be, without shame or reservation. I cry in public now and I do so freely.
As women, there is an assumption that our emotions somehow keep us back from thinking logically and acting rationally. Somehow being emotional has been equated to being weak. Ladies, hear me when I say this: you are not weak for feeling. You are not weak for being empathetic. You are not weak because you are tender, loving, or sentimental. You are not weak for crying. The beautiful thing that I have come to realize is that Jesus had big emotions. He was not passive in his anger, his joy, or his sadness. Jesus himself wept in front of a crowd of people after the death of one his dearest friends. That is such a glorious image of the humanity of the Incarnation. No one in their right mind would dare to say that Jesus was weak for breaking down the way that He did. Jesus shows us that healthy emotions are another piece of our image bearing capacities. He cried. He got angry. He cracked jokes. Jesus is the ultimate example of how—when mixed with our gifts, skills, and intellect—emotions can be used in powerful ways for the Kingdom of God.
To all those deemed “too emotional,” stop feeling bad for feeling. Let it out.