Last year I felt my singleness deeply. In many ways I still do, but last year I wasn’t sure how to handle the big emotions that at times overwhelmed me. The result? I tried to simply … not handle them. For weeks, I held it all in, stuffing down my emotions and acting like I was fine when I wasn’t.
I don’t recommend that strategy. I didn’t make much progress while dwelling on my circumstances. I just kept going in circles, around and around the same worries, over and over again.
Finally, I opened up — ever so slightly — to a friend.
It would be the first of many conversations I’ve had with friends and family members since then, processing my extended singleness in a deeper way than I had before. One night I talked with two of my single friends, as we all shared how we were wrestling through our own questions and hopes. “I’m always amazed by how much it helps to just talk about it,” I told them.
I hope I remember that next time I face something weighing me down.
3 reasons you should talk about it
It blows me away how much freedom we gain by letting our hidden struggles out. I can think of at least three specific ways talking about our problems helps us deal with them.
Release. Feel that? You’re carrying less on your shoulders now. You’re not holding your problem in anymore, stewing over it. It has seen the light. So have you, hopefully. But that’s the next point.
Perspective. No matter what you’re worried about, you’re likely overthinking it. There are two types of perspective we can gain from sharing our problems or worries with others. Some people haven’t been where we are but can still weigh in. They have a more objective view of our conundrum. I’m always surprised by how much someone who goes through something completely different can teach me that I can specifically apply to my own situation. We aren’t meant to learn only from people who walk the exact road we’re on. In God’s wisdom — and kindness — the things we learn can often apply to many situations.
But we also benefit deeply from talking with people who have been down our road. They’ve been where we are and can look at it from the other side. They ”get it” in a way most people may not. There’s great relief in being understood, and people who have been through what we’re facing are more likely to understand our concerns.
Input. Notice I didn’t say “advice.” Sometimes that’s the last thing we want — someone who only tries to fix our problem instead of commiserating with us. But there’s absolutely a place for advice, and hopefully you’ll be talking to people who know when to wield advice as a tool and when to simply listen. “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver,” wrote Solomon. The best advice — and advice-givers — will always point you to Christ. They’ll help you reorient your focus off yourself and onto truth.
A couple caveats
Two words of caution here. First, don’t spill all your deepest ponderings to everyone you come in contact with. Not everyone will be qualified to speak into your life. And honestly? Not everyone will want a ride on all your trains of thought.
Quoting Solomon again (loosely), there is a time to speak and a time to be silent. Sometimes we need to speak up in that specific time or place or with that specific person. Sometimes, though, you have to give it a rest. Take a break from fixating on your problems. Sometimes you need to talk to God about it and wait to loop anyone else into the conversation.
A time to listen, too
Is there something you’ve been dwelling on and you’ve decided you need to get some new perspective? Is there a problem or worry filling your mind and zapping your emotional energy? Maybe you’re stuck in a loop about a relational problem at work, or maybe you’re trying to make a decision and the answer seems to elude you.
What do you need to talk about? Who can you seek out?
If you’re like me, you’ll be glad you shared your concerns with someone else.
But remember: This is a two-way street. We aren’t the only ones who need to be heard and listened to. As we seek out the right people to share our problems with, let’s also prepare ourselves to be the people someone else can reach out to.
As we share our burdens with each other, we just might be surprised at what — and how — God teaches all of us.
Copyright 2023 Lauren Dunn. All rights reserved.