Did you know that your right brain, the side that deals with emotion, doesn’t really understand time sequence like the left logical side does?
This basically means that emotional events; traumatic, loving, fearful and joy filled experiences are simply ‘there’ in your right brain. Your left brain tells you the event is in the past, but the disconnected emotion in the right brain generally has no clue on what the past is. It’s just there. Present. Real. Raw. Often a threat to the functional left side.
As a result, we can remain divided in ourselves and spend energy fending off these unresolved emotions and feelings by medicating them with destructive behaviours, substances, codependency, busyness etc.
For years (especially in my 20s when I knew everything) when I met with someone processing or mentioning past events they were struggling with, I would quickly shame them by quoting scripture like, ‘It is finished (Jesus said!)’ or ‘I press on towards the goal..’ or ‘I’m a new creation in Christ, the old is past..’. (sound familiar?) Little did I know that I seriously wasn’t helping them at all. – In fact, I’ve since learnt that not giving space for others OR ourselves to verbally and emotionally process pain and emotions can be detrimental. The emotion needs to metabolise and find connection with the left side. And this is best done through safe and loving relationships.
As I reflect back on my old responses, I realise that I was just parroting these misconstrued scriptures to keep the other’s emotions at a distance because they were a threat to me. They made ME feel uncomfortable. They brought up things hiding in the shadows of my history. ‘Crap!’ left brain said, ‘If right brain hears more of this he’s gonna crack too!’.
So, as friends, partners, parents or pastors, what are we to do when other people’s pain and emotions overwhelm us or triggers things in us? Well, you can begin by taking it to Jesus together. In fact, even if you can handle it, nothing beats strong connection to the Prince of Peace. He’s so faithful. His promise to never leave or forsake us is true! Even as you part ways from your time together, Jesus goes with them. That’s good news!! They’re in good hands.
Remember beloved, we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Made in, for and by LOVE Himself. It is Jesus’s good pleasure to take the heavy load we have been carrying. The pain, trauma and suffering. Allow Him to give you and those He brings in to your life true shalom and healing.
Blessings David Tensen
P.S. If the information another person shares with you poses a life-threat to them or others, you need to seek professional intervention. I also suggest that, outside of praying with them and loving them, you don’t try and play the role of a professional. Some traumas and stories are too big and serious for many of us. Encourage them to find a counsellor, GP, Psychologist, trained minister or some health care professional to journey with them.