Welcome. My name is Sam and I have really big emotions.
I definitely didn’t wake up one day and decide to take on such a profound character trait – nor have I received particularly encouraging feedback throughout my life for my ability to stay cool, calm, and collected. I easily feel sad, angry, overwhelmed, or anxious given the right recipe of circumstances.
If I were to paint a picture of my family, popular children’s book author Roger Hargreaves might affectionately name them: Mr. Bossy (Dad), Little Miss Chatterbox (Mom), Little Miss Nobody (Myself), and Mr. Anxious (Little Brother). *Insert adorable assorted characters here.*
The problem with having such BIG emotions within one family is that each member needs space to freely sing their own emotional tune. Picture this: Mr. Bossy walks about the house giving unsolicited directions for how to do things. Little Miss Chatterbox roams around for some form of validation, connection, or meaningful conversation. They’re both stepping around Mr. Anxious, a tiny mess of a creature grasping for any sense of security. And behind the scenes, Little Miss Nobody avoids the chaos and hides, in search of some form of regulation.
This common family dynamic inevitably invites relational tension and emotional chaos. Pepper in some big emotions, a handful of stress and BOOM! Big emotions can lead to even bigger troubles.
Why Big Emotions?
I have never put my finger on the reason behind my family’s larger-than-life feelings, nor have I identified exactly who passed down this trait.
What have I found, you ask? I have found myself in countless situations looking around at other human beings wondering why I feel alone. Why is it that they are not bubbling over the top and out their ears with rage, sadness, humiliation, confusion, worry, and fear?
Because 99% of the time I am.
Angry that the world is dangerous for my babies? Absolutely.
Screaming at the heartless hatred toward our planet and creatures? You bet.
Lying awake at night soaking in the last few hours of mom guilt? Every. Dang. Time.
How, in this day and age, is anyone supposed to operate without a whole slew of big emotions at any given moment? I certainly cannot.
Sitting down to write this post, I find myself reflecting on the consequences of living a life absolutely full of big emotions. What would be my best therapeutic answer to the simple question, “Why big emotions?”
After mulling over my own history, I am comforted by this: Jesus, our perfect and all-powerful Creator, is the ultimate role model of leading with acceptance, truth, and deep love for others. He lived by example in honoring emotions, speaking truth, and holding love and space for those we love – regardless of their imperfections. He modeled big emotions in a healthy way.
Consider the story of Lazarus. When Jesus arrived to comfort Mary and Martha in the loss of their brother, Jesus Himself was overcome with emotion. “Jesus wept” [John 11:35] is one of the most profound verses available to us as Christians.
Jesus wept for the loss of a dear friend, for the entire city of Jerusalem, and grieved the endless infirmities of sin and brokenness. Jesus is deeply touched by the walk that He shares with each of us as His children. Big emotions can become an invitation for Jesus to step in, relieve the burden, and refill our painful brokenness with unconditional love. Jesus knows the depth of suffering and vulnerability found deep within our emotions. Jesus Himself whispered this vulnerability into our lives as a stepping stone that leads us back to Him.
Like many parents, our Heavenly Father holds very big emotions for each of His children. His tears are a powerful reminder that emotions aren’t bad. In fact, they reflect His pure love for us. Jesus held deep love for imperfect sinners. The purest love.
Ultimately, our big emotions matter to Him, the Creator of the Universe and Father of eternal life. The suffering, pain, and tears we endure draw us nearer to His unconditional love.
Perhaps then, my four-pack family of big emotions is a gift. A loving invitation from Jesus to lean into forgiveness and unconditional love for the duration of my life here of Earth. If I, Little Miss Nobody, am worthy of big emotions that point me to eternal forgiveness and our loving Savior…aren’t we all?
Author: SAMANTHA KOSTAMO
Samantha is a highly skilled member of our team. She works with a wide range of clients (everything from first responders to play therapy!) If you’re interested in more exercises or learning more about how navigating big emotions, consider a counseling session with Samantha!