Fear & All Its Friends
“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.”
Excerpt From: C. S. Lewis. “A Grief Observed.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/hFSFv.l
Some time ago, Eric and I were talking on The Plugged In Church Podcast about how to start podcasting. We gave a little behind the scenes chat about how we operate, some other tips, tricks, etc. We also shared some of our own favorite podcasts, what we like listening to, and so on.
I found my "likes" kind of interesting.
My favorite podcasts are typically personal. Not always in the way of sharing inner-most feelings... but just... personal. It can be humorous, informative, technical... but I'm going to stick with it most if it is personal. If the host is really speaking naturally, diving-in to inside jokes, personal experience, I'm probably digging it.
I like that same style in literature.
That's part of the reason I like C.S. Lewis (I mean... a billion people do). But I never really got into Narnia or anything like that. On-top of the typical love of "Mere Christianity", books like "The Problem of Pain" and "A Grief Observed" serve as reference material in my library.
These books are personal. These books show personal processing. They put to words feelings that most people will experience at some point.
Recently, I reopened "A Grief Observed" and found myself taken (again) by the first stanza of the first page of the first chapter (the quote you see at the top of this post).
For Lewis, the emotional manifestation of grief was synthesizing how he felt while afraid. I think we all deal with that.
I think we all have emotions and feelings that have blurred boundaries with one another.
As someone who has dealt with depression and anxiety since my youth, blended/blurred emotions are pretty standard hat. Sometimes, I get to the point where I go, "Why do I feel (insert random emotion here)."... Like I'm blindsided by my own feelings. So all of this leads me to one thought... even though it has taken awhile for me to get to it...
We really never know what someone is going through.
... seriously. We don't, really.
We may have insight. We may have similar experience. We may have studied all kinds of psychological cases and memorized the algorithms to every personality test. We may even be able to help someone dealing with strange emotional turmoil... but I don't believe it's possible to really know exactly how someone feels, or what all of their circumstances are. There are far too many variables.
Someone you know may be like Lewis, dealing with grief that's manifesting as fear. Your friend may have anger manifesting as sadness. Your coworker may have anxiety manifesting as fatigue.
So maybe saying "I know how you feel." shouldn't be our first response to a friend dealing with emotional hardship. Perhaps we should just come alongside them, and prayerfully recover with them in their brokenness.