Smiley faces on empty shells

By Dave Henning / April 14, 2024

“When we deny our pain, losses, and feelings year after year, we become less and less human.  We transform into empty shells with smiley faces painted on them.”- Peter Scazzero, pastor and author, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality

As Jennifer Allen continues Chapter 2 of Untangle Your Emotions, she describes a broad spectrum of response to feelings.  The spectrum ranges from shutting down to feeling multiple feelings every minute.  Yet, Jennifer observes, wherever you fall on that spectrum, it makes sense.  Because we all have feelings and are trying to figure out what to do with them.  Thus, we aren’t all that different.

Certainly, Jennifer notes, numbness serves its purpose for a season.  Hence, numbness:

  • protects us from feeling everything that’s happening all at once.
  • keeps us afloat when a tsunami of emotion gathers in our lives.
  • buys us a little time when it’s not advisable to make big decisions, when the best thing we can do is wait.

However, in time numbness ceases to function as a gift.  Because it begins to keep us closed off from ourselves and our emotions.  Jonathan Edwards, the eighteenth-century revivalist preacher, wrote lifelong resolutions.  He reviewed them on a weekly basis.  Overall, Edwards wrote seventy resolutions.  Most significantly, Jennifer cites number six: “Resolved, To live with all my might, while I do live.”

Seems like an obvious objective.  But when you settle for apathetic and numb, it’s really, really difficult to live with all your might.  Therefore, Jennifer stresses, apathetic and numb aren’t living at all.

In conclusion, Jennifer notes that we recollect events when that memory attaches to an emotion.  Emotion makes events count.  Hence, when you lead with emotion, memories flow.  Consequently, the author emphasizes: To live is to feel and to feel is to live.

As a result, Jennifer exhorts:

“Without feelings, there is no life.  I’m writing this book not only to help us feel again but also to help us start living again. With all our might, to live.”

Today’s question: What do you think it’s like for people to live with smiley faces on empty shells?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Knot theory – hold up to the light”

About the author

Dave Henning

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