A Brief Hiatus From Humor

Hi friends. I normally stick with humor on the blog, or at the very least, I keep to a writing theme, but today will be a little different. If this isn’t what you’re looking for, feel free to stop reading at any time.

I have this certain characteristic that really drives me crazy sometimes. I feel other people’s emotions very deeply. If someone I know is happy, I feel their happiness. If someone is depressed, I can’t help but cry for them. And if tragedy strikes, I am utterly crushed.

This is true of most people when it applies to someone close to them, but I feel this way about people I’ve never met. Whenever a celebrity dies, I grieve for their family. I actually mourn for them. For example, one of my favorite singers, Corinne Bailey Rae, lost her husband unexpectedly a couple years ago. I was driving when I heard the news on the radio and I cried for at least an hour. I don’t know Corinne, and I didn’t even know she was married. But in that moment, I felt her pain. Not all of it, but some.

Today I found out that one of my writer friends is a widow. She didn’t tell me, and I haven’t even spoken to her about it, but in a sort of roundabout way I discovered this fact about her. I have never met her face to face, and I guess there’s a chance I never will. I read a few of her blog entries and discovered the details of her husband’s death. And I cried for her. A lot.

I also discovered that, from what I can tell, she is a believer in Christ.

I stay fairly quiet in the public forums about my faith. There are several reasons for this, but the main one is that if I weren’t a Christian, the last thing I would want is for some yahoo to be all up in my face about it. That would really make me mad, and I would probably stop following their blog and ditch them on Twitter. I also know for a fact that Christianity is, on the whole, very misunderstood due to some sections of the church that turn a relationship with God into a list of do’s and don’ts. A list of how to be better than the non-Christians. And that, my friends, is not the Gospel. But I digress.

I am fascinated by this woman’s strength. In my experience with her, she has been very honest, funny, and basically, a superhero. She has lots – and I do mean lots – of kids. How does she support them by herself? How does she find time for her writing?

How does she get out of bed every morning without the love of her life by her side?

I cannot even imagine it.

I know there is no guarantee that we have tomorrow, but I never expect for my husband to disappear suddenly, leaving me alone. What would happen if he did? How would I react? Would I fall into a pit of depression and never recover? Would I be angry at God? Would I quit my job, get on a plane, and vanish?

At some point, I would probably do all of those things (except maybe the last one, but anyone who knows me in real life will understand that hopping on a random plane is totally something I might do).

I’ve had a fairly easy life, as lives go. There’s been tragedy, make no mistake, but compared to so many other people – like my friend – it’s been relatively manageable. I’ve lost people in my family, but never anyone closer than a grandparent. I’ve lost friends, but never a best friend.

This is one of those times where I’m seeing how much life I have to go (as far as I know, anyway) and I am realizing the potential for trials along the way. What does God have in store for me? How will he challenge me, teach me, encourage me, break and rebuild me? I know sanctification is necessary, but does it have to be so difficult sometimes? And how does sovereignty really work, anyway?

I know this post isn’t for everyone, so don’t feel pressured to comment or even read. Maybe you’ve stopped reading already, and that’s fine. I almost disabled comments on this post, but I think I’ll leave them open. If you’ve got something to add, I would love to read it.

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14 thoughts on “A Brief Hiatus From Humor

  1. Harley D. Palmer says:

    I am almost the same way Anne. I am strongly affected by other people’s emotions. When my husband is stressed, then I’m stressed only I don’t know why. It’s hard sometimes for me to deal with and probably a good reason why I hate leaving my house. It’s like waves come off of people on what their feeling and it makes me feel the same too. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions going outside of my house! Give me a headache or on a really bad day, I have a panic attack. It’s not pretty, but it’s me.

  2. The Alliterative Allomorph says:

    Firstly, I’d like to say, I read every word. And I’d also like to say that there is nothing wrong with posting about something that makes you feel down. We are all human, and I’m sure no one expects you to write some happy go lucky humorous post when you’re feeling blue. I sure couldn’t.

    And you know what? I’m going to admit right now that I spend the most of my life depressed. There are actually no logical reasons behind it either. It’s just the way I was made. I do push through it, though, knowing that that feeling will go away at some point.

    Anyway, my point is, sometimes you just need to say how you feel, and in the end you feel better for it. I think your readers will respect you more for it too – they’ll realise that you also have a side that you don’t often show – but it still exists – everyone can relate to that.

  3. Heather says:

    That’s a very touching and honest post that I don’t think many people would be brave enough to write. Most people have to have a tragedy occur to them to get this kind of wakeup call. That you received the message through someone else’s tragedy speaks volumes about your giving and sharing nature.

  4. Sara McClung says:

    Anne! Oh man. 🙁 That is really sad–and also inspiring. That your friend is still writing and living her life shows such a strength in her character. I’m not sure what I would do in that situation, to be honest it’s too hard for me to think about…

  5. Anne Riley says:

    Harley: Thanks so much for commenting. It is a rollercoaster out there, isn’t it? I’m so glad I’m not alone!

  6. Anne Riley says:

    Allomorph: Ha, I feel weird calling you that! Yeah, you’re so right. I always like to see other sides of people, other dimensions, I guess. It makes them seem more real, even if I’ve never met them. I hate that you spend so much time depressed – I go through periods of that myself. You’re right, everyone does. Thanks so much for the comment!

  7. Anne Riley says:

    Heather: Thanks for your kind words. Normally, these things pop into my head at night when I can’t sleep, but today it happened at work – gah!

  8. Anne Riley says:

    Sara: It’s too hard for me to think about, too. And, to be honest, I don’t think there’s any point in worrying about things that are outside of our control. We just need to be aware of the frailty of our lives, and cherish what we have as much as we’re able to do so, with the understanding that everything good is a privilege and not something we’re entitled to.

  9. Lorel says:

    It’s wonderful you have so much empathy for others. I felt it–you had me crying while reading that post! I can’t imagine how awful it would be to lose my husband. Don’t feel ashamed of feeling for others: that is what makes the world a better place 🙂

  10. Courtney-The Southern Princess says:

    Anne,

    We live in a world where so many people believe they are alone. It makes it easier for them to just give in & give up. They ignore their strengths, forget their compassion and bow down to the negativity that true evil breeds.

    All of us skirt that edge; we walk along the cliff trying to decide whether or not to plunge headfirst into the churning waves below.
    For most of us the water is filled with terrifying things, horrible tragedies that plague our family our friends; but for those of us that stand on the edge ready to jump, ready to accept something we cannot see below the surface we are special.
    We know that we are not alone as our toes curl against the stones.
    We know that someone guides us to the proper spot before we begin to spring forward.
    We know that as we sail into the unknown we are flanked by something the others have chosen to ignore.
    We know that when the cold water crashes over us and the wind is at first knocked from our chest we won’t lose focus.
    We will welcome the help that dove with us.
    We will be strengthened by unseen forces.
    We will rise above the surface winded, but stronger, elated, refreshed.
    We climb out of the water and return to the top.
    We climb not without purpose.
    We climb for the next person standing on the edge; the one shaking from the wind and terrified of the dark depths below.
    We hold their hand.
    We give them strength.
    We share our faith.
    We are to be the example.
    We are to help the weary.
    We are to comfort the scared.
    We are to give hope to the hopeless.
    We remind them, they are never alone.

    Forgive me the long comment. Faith, strength, coming through adversity is a topic that I work at every day. My life has been a blessed one, but not without hardships. I am grateful for each moment – no regrets. Your friend is amazing. She is one the ones that climbs the cliff side over & over again to bring strength to others. How we handle the climb, the jump, the resurfacing it measures us; yes. But it is never meant to break us. We are never given more than we can handle. The water is never so deep that we are meant to drown.

    Visit My Kingdom Anytime

  11. Rhonda Cowsert says:

    I read your post and recognized so much of myself in it. My husband calls me a sponge because I just absorb the feelings of people and places around me without meaning to (sometimes without even realizing I’ve done it)…and I truly “feel” the feelings. It’s like empathy on steroids or something. It can ruin a perfectly good day and it’s so hard to shake off.

    I know that being able to *feel* those horrible feelings has made me far more aware of the fleeting nature of life and the almost intolerable pain that some people feel…I’m sure that this is in large part responsible for my anxiety/panic attacks. The idea of losing my husband is just too difficult for me to even contemplate so I’m just not going to allow my mind to go there or I’ll end up in an emotional mess.

    I’m glad you chose to share your thoughts. 🙂

  12. Anne Riley says:

    Lorel: Thanks for the encouragement! I know it’s not a bad thing to feel other people’s emotions so strongly, but it’s hard, you know? Sometimes I wish I could just brush things off like some people are able to do. But I suppose there’s always a reason we’re made the way we’re made, right?

  13. Anne Riley says:

    Courtney: That was so beautiful, thank you so much for the words of wisdom and kindness! I think you said it all. All I can say is thank you!

  14. Anne Riley says:

    Rhonda: I’m glad we share that personality trait! And yes, I know what you mean. I can’t think about it either. What’s hard for me is when my mind forces me to consider possibilities like that. But I suppose it’s good to realize that anything is possible; but not everything is probable.

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