“It felt like my world was over, that I was never gonna have love in my life again, that I was never gonna have peace in my heart again. It was awful.” – Rich, a single parent talking about how he felt after divorce.
Finding peace while we are in the middle of the pain can seem impossible but when we get in touch with the gift of our whole heart we also find peace.
Chip Dodd, counselor, mentor, speaker and best-selling author, shares how embracing our emotions leads to wholeness and peace. In his book, “Voice of the Heart”, he invites us to begin to know our hearts better so we can know ourselves and from that place, live more fully in relationship to God and others. Chip says a broken heart is a heart that needs something, it’s a heart that needs healing and rebuilding. When we bring our broken hearts to God, He promises to bind them together again. He wraps his love around the broken places and bring healing, peace and wholeness.
We live in a society where a desire for false peace exists, a pretext of peace from not having to deal or feel. Instead, God promises a peace that passes understanding even when we are wanting, hoping or wishing and needing something. Peace isn’t about the absence of the hurt or pain we feel. It’s about being relationally connected with our whole hearts, with God and with others at the same time. This means fully embracing our God given capacity to feel the eight core emotions, Dodd identifies:
- Healthy Shame
Chip shares each of these emotions is a gift that helps us recognize what we need. When the need isn’t acknowledged, there are impairments in our ability to find peace with God and others. These impairments occur when we don’t know what to do with our sadness, hurt, fear, loneliness, anger, guilt or healthy shame. We also won’t know what to do with our gladness either. The gift of these emotions occurs when they lead us to reach out with hope and vulnerability to have our needs met.
For example, loneliness is a feeling that reminds us we are made for relationships. Loneliness tells us we need connection. Neuroscientists are finally catching up with the scripture which repeatedly tells us we are made for relationship. We are created for social connection to find social contentment. This is how we find peace and wholeness. Loneliness helps us recognize our need to have time with ourselves, with another person, or with God. Loneliness calls us to intimacy.
Gladness comes from being good at noticing, accepting and embracing our emotions. When we embrace loneliness, we accept our need for relationships and have the opportunity to have our needs for intimacy met. The same holds true with each emotion. When we step into the real experience of each feeling, we can recognize what they are telling us and we can move toward getting our needs met.
Life experience sometimes tells us to bury our hearts, to hide our emotions, to stay locked inside our tomb for survival, but God came to give life to the full, in abundance. The enemy came to rob, steal, and kill. He wants to kill how we are made, who we are made to be, whose we are made to be and what we are to do, which is to share life together. To do this, we need to understand our feelings and let them move us toward wholeness.
Chip shares that even in experiencing loneliness, if we willingly allow our hearts to feel, we can live according to how God created us, as full hearted beings who need the hope that comes from connection. “And,” says Chip, “hope is an eternal flame. It can go low, but it doesn’t go out. Even in the depths of depression or in our anxieties” that hope continues. It’s like a pilot light. “And when we are connected, when we are seen, when we belong and matter, the light goes up”, Chip continues. Embracing the voice of our heart willingly and with patience, gives us the courage to hope again and in that hope, we can find our voice and recognize our needs and ask for what we need. This is vulnerable and invites the opportunity to be wounded but this is how we were created! We are created to join, we are created to be in relationship. If we don’t embrace our feelings of loneliness, we get sucked into apathy, the impairment of loneliness. Apathy removes us from having to feel anything. It draws us away from recognizing and asking for what we truly need – connection and relationship.
Chip shares that, like loneliness, each emotion has a direction both left and right. One direction pulls us toward healing and wholeness and the other isolates us and pulls us away from how we are created. We need to surrender our emotions to God and let ourselves feel and move toward connection instead of toward isolation.
Chip shares that the way through any emotion is to acknowledge it and understand the need it represents. For example, fear is a legitimate experience that helps us recognize danger and anticipate harm. Fear allows us to cry out for the help that we need to feel safe, to be safe and to experience the comfort of others. Once we accept our fear and reach out for safety, only then can we seek the wisdom we need to face the fear. But, first, we must acknowledge it and seek connection through it. That connection from our emotions to others brings strength and security to move toward the fear while also holding on to love and truth.
In our Solo Parent Society groups, one of the primary things we do for each other is offer this type of emotional support. There is no checklist or series of steps as to why the groups are so effective, but we see over and over again how much strength comes from that connection. Chip shares that this is the magic of “encouragement.” To be able to face life with hope, we need courage which means the ability for “full hearted participation”. And we need our courage buckets to be refilled every day or we become discouraged. This refilling is miraculous! “It’s not a plate of food, or a pill, or an injection. It’s words of truth from people who feel their feelings, who tell the truth, who give their story and say “I’m not going anywhere. I’m here.” This presence and these words actually go into another person and gives them courage again! This is encouragement. The deposit we make into each other’s lives to so we can regain the capacity to participate again with hope.”
This happens week after week in our weekly Solo Parent Society groups. If you’re reading this and need courage, please find an online group where you can be known, seen, and heard. Founder, Robert Beeson, used his pain and brokenness to reach out for what he needed during his solo parent journey. In turn, he then wanted to offer that same support to others. Embracing our feelings and reaching out for connection leads to personal healing. Being aware of our feelings helps us and can lead us to help others too.
Chip Dodd also shares how attunement to the voice of our heart can help us be better parents. His book, “Parenting with Heart”, shares that healthy parents demonstrate the need for healthy connection to their emotions. Parents who embrace their whole heart then have the capacity to raise a child who can do the same. We can’t give our kids what we don’t have. To raise strong kids, we must have a full-hearted experience ourselves. When we model how to feel and connect authentically, we give that ability to our kids too.
Sometimes we look at our lives as single parents and see our hurting hearts as scattered or shattered but a whole heart isn’t the absence of painful emotions. Our hearts are more intact then the enemy wants us to believe. Even when we are hurting, we can have peace that passes all understanding because a whole heart is about recognizing how each of these feelings can serve us. “Wholeness does not mean NOT feeling”, says Chip, “and peace doesn’t mean getting away from living. Wholeness is allowing our feelings to connect us to the relationships we are made to have.” And when we embrace our whole heart, we are able to become individuals who have passion, a people of intimacy, a people of forgiveness and freedom and acceptance. When we embrace how we are created to fully experience our emotions, we become whole even when we have scars or wounds that are still sensitive to the touch. We can find peace when we embrace the voice of our heart!
To listen to the Podcast with Chip CLICK
Learn more about Chip Dodd here – www.chipdodd.com
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