Christians need to know the difference.

Allowing ourselves to truly experience our emotions is a beautiful thing and is the first step toward becoming a well-rounded and emotionally balanced person.

As simple as it sounds, it’s not common practice, especially among young Christians.

Dealing with ourselves hurts. And most of the time, it’s easier to pose for a perfect profile picture and pretend everything is always OK. We were told that we should bury ourselves in the “hustle” or self-medicate with sex,drugs or food until our feelings are stifled enough that we don’t think we need to face them. Yes, admitting to ourselves that we have trust issues or that we hate being alone is hard.

Dealing with a breakup without numbing the pain can be scary. Pouring yourself another glass of wine is easier than pouring your feelings into a journal or opening up to a friend but being open about your journey is not just a catalyst to emotional growth—it’s a requirement for it. You have to face your struggles sooner or later.

However, throughout my own journey, I’ve gained a few key insights that has made the process a little easier to deal with.

Don’t Interrupt the Process.

When we’re going through a period of emotional pain, we must allow ourselves time to heal or there won’t be any growth afterward. We tend to overestimate how much we can handle and hinder our own process by going back to the thing that caused the pain in the first place.

Every time you reopen a scenario, it’s like ripping the bandage off a cut that’s still bleeding. It takes you back to square one. This is one of the hardest things to execute, but growth can’t happen unless you release the thing you need to grow out of. You can’t properly dissect and reflect on a situation when you’re still in the thick of it.

It’s God’s desire for us to be healed. But without ever addressing the issue, that’s not possible.

Vulnerability Isn’t Weak, It’s Beautiful.

I repeat, vulnerability doesn’t mean that you’re weak, it means that you’re brave enough to embrace that you don’t have it all together and lean into the God who does. As an introvert and an emotionally guarded person, this concept used to be foreign to me.

It was so scary to allow people to see what a complete mess I am under the cool exterior I tried so hard to project. But as I got older, I realized that being transparent with the people we care about is one of the joys of life that so many of us miss out on. Instead, we try to manipulate and re-adjust ourselves according to who we think others want us to be.

This is wrong for two reasons: We’re all deserving of love exactly as we are and when we hide the things about ourselves we deem “undesirable,” we’re building shaky relationships that eventually collapse due to the weak foundations they’re built on.

The sooner you realize we’re all a collection of beautifully broken souls doing our best with the cards life deals us, the easier it becomes to accept and be yourself.

God loves you, somebody else loves you and you should love you. Any improvements you’re making to yourself should simply be based on that ultimate truth.

Growth Has No Expiration.

I turned 30 in May. I was living in Los Angeles and under the impression that I had “arrived” in terms of emotional growth and balance. I had great relationships with my friends and family, I knew what I wanted to do as a career, I felt comfortable in my own skin and had the checklist for my “ideal mate” all figured out. Then I got an opportunity to move to New York City and all the “life lessons” I thought I had conquered came tumbling down in a New York minute.

It took me moving to a new city, switching career paths and leaving everything I knew behind to make me realize that growth is a cycle that starts all over at every stage of your life.

Yes, I’d had a great handle on my life in L.A. but complacency can trick us into stifling our growth.

Moving to New York made me realize that I had so much more to learn about myself and others. It challenged me mentally, emotionally and physically to the point where I had to reevaluate everything I thought I knew about myself. It wasn’t fun but restarting the growth cycle has shown me that there’s far more potential within me than I give myself credit for. And even though I will be just as disoriented and clueless at the next stage of my life, it’s okay, because it’s all just part of the process.

But don’t take it from me.

Just breathe and allow yourself to embrace your emotions, good or bad. But simply allowing yourself to feel isn’t enough. Dissect it, reflect on it and spend time alone and surrender it to God.

The most beautiful human relationship you will ever have is the one you have with yourself.

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