5 Steps In Sorting Out Emotional Laundry

In my last blog post we discussed where emotions come from. We looked closely at a spectrum and learned that people deal with their circumstances differently. I used an example of a circumstance in mine and my husband’s life that happened two years ago. We both went through the same heartbreak but each of us emotionally handled it differently.

I have learned that if we don’t deal with “our stuff”  as it comes in a proper healthy way, it tends to build and build. Without even knowing it when something of great value brings us to our knees it is there EVERYTHING. LITTLE. THING. comes to the surface. 

Here’s what I mean….

About nine months before my husband was terminated from the church we were shepherding; my family and I were packing up our camper getting ready for our yearly summer camping trip. It was early in the morning as I was loading our camper that I received a phone call nobody ever wants to receive. My biological father had been in a car accident and is dead. Gut wrenching. My father and I didn’t have a close relationship at all I only barely knew him. He had struggled with addiction for most of his adult life and was in and out of prison and my life because of it.  

            My husband and I got on a plane within the next couple of days to start planning a funeral for a man that I hardly knew yet was my father. Throughout the next few weeks, I helped clean out his house. I saw things that no one should see, and I found letters upon letters that I wrote to him in which he had never returned. Truth is I was over it and ready to go home and get back to my life. Why? Because it literally made me so angry at him. So, I did just that I went home and got on with my life. 

Now back to dealing with your stuff. I did not deal with my grief over my father properly. I did what my husband did in our last scenario and got busy doing work. I did exactly what I said, I got back to my life. Why am I telling you this?

You see when the bigger love of our life (The Church) was closed and my husband left jobless and grief hit us like a TON of bricks, guess what came to the surface? You guessed it. The death of my father, I had not handled it and it wasn’t until everything piled on that it came to the surface. Now I had no choice but to handle it or unless I was going to be overcome by it. I’d be lying if I told you, it didn’t overtake me along with our church grief. 

So how do we deal with our stuff? 

Dealing with our emotions and stuff is like sorting out laundry. You know how you put darks with darks and whites with whites? It’s kind of like that, we must sort our emotions out, we can’t just leave them all piling up like a HUGE load of laundry. What would happen if we never did our laundry? The pile would get bigger and bigger, in fact, it would never go away. What would happen if we didn’t sort our laundry by colors and we threw it in the washer all together? The colors would bleed onto each other and ruin our clothing. Same with our emotions if we don’t sort out our emotional baggage it will get BIGGER and BIGGER and START TO BLEED OUT into our daily life. Before you know it, we are one gigantic pile of dirty laundry BLEEDING OUT onto those around us. All the bright colors have been stained by all the dark colors and you wake up one morning wearing ugly murky clothes out into the world. 

When we are hurt and wounded by the circumstances in our life whether that be death of a spouse, child, or friend, a job loss, losing a house in a fire or flood, or losing your church family in the middle of a pandemic; whatever it may be bleeding out is a real thing without actual blood. If we don’t get a handle on our wounds and start treating them with ointment and gauze it is possible, we will bleed out emotionally and become dry and withered with nothing left to give.  

How do we sort our laundry of emotions?

Number one: you cannot sort out your emotions properly without a relationship with your Creator. God created you and me with emotions this is how we relate to Him and with each-other. He’s the one who created the emotions so why would we go anywhere else? If this step isn’t in place in your life, you will not get COMPLETE healing without this number one step. Engaging emotions without engaging God is a recipe for disaster. Check your heart; where are you at with God? Maybe you’re angry with Him, tell Him so. Pour out your heart to Him. He sent His Son Jesus so that we can have access to Him. Jesus is the way the truth and the life no One can come to the Father except by Him and Him alone. 

Number two: Identify the emotion you are feeling. Most of us (especially women) can’t put words to how we are feeling. So, we must take out a piece of paper and literally write down what exactly are we feeling? Maybe, it’s a range of emotions angry, sad, completely broken. Write down what you’re feeling give it a name. This step makes you aware that there is something going on inside of you.

Number three: Examine your feelings. Look at it, turn it around, and see what you can learn about it. Your emotions are always telling you something about what you are valuing, caring about, or loving. Examining your emotions is asking questions like, why am I feeling this? What am I reacting to? Why is this hitting me so hard? What are they telling you? Your feelings and emotions should always be influencing your relationship towards God not away from Him.

Number four: After you identify and examine your emotions the next step is to evaluate them. Which aspects of what you are feeling good and godly? How have your emotions formed your thought process? What actions have your emotions caused you to make? (Drug use, alcohol, anger, prayer, reading Gods word) Evaluate what is going on in your heart. Have your emotions driven you towards God or away from Him?

Number five: Act. What actions do you need to take to start healing? What came to the surface through the first four steps? Do you need to repent and get right with our Lord and savior? Do you need to forgive someone? Do you need to pray? You will always have something to bring to God the human heart is never empty. Do you need to rid yourself of what has been holding you in bondage such as alcohol, drugs, anger, or maybe like me sweets?! This is the hardest step because our emotions can hold us down and tell us that we are fine just the way we are. But it is not acting on how we feel but rather what we know. What did the first four steps reveal to you? Act. 

There is so much more I can write on this subject but for length purposes I am going to leave it here. If you have more questions, feel free to reach out to me in email or messenger I’d be happy to help where I can. To tell my story is to tell of Jesus. 

In Jesus Name,

Jessica Parnell

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