Proverbs 13-15

“The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy.”

I kind of skidded to a halt on this verse.

My mind goes two ways with that first half.

  1. The heart knows its own bitterness, whether you deny it or not. How often do we try to lie to ourselves? Rather than actually process through our grief or disappointment or frustration, we determine to take the high road and just be ‘fine.’ We’re fine. It’s fine. We dive into distractions; we bury our feelings; we act like nothing happened. Because pulling those feelings out and facing them is difficult. Really difficult. The problem is, the heart still knows its own bitterness.
  2. The heart knows its own bitterness, whether you believe it or not. How often do we invalidate each other’s pain? All too often cursory attempts at comfort are little more than ‘it could be worse.’ All too often someone who can’t possibly know the full context of our experience tells us we’re over reacting. Whatever happened wouldn’t mean that much to someone else, so it can’t possibly mean that much to anyone.

He can’t help our emotions. What we can help is our reaction. What we can control is our response. But, um, this bit seems to escape a lot of people, in order to control that response? You have to acknowledge what you’re responding to. C. S. Lewis said “I sat with my anger long enough until she told me her real name was grief.” If we don’t honestly explore what we feel in our hearts, it will come out in ways we can neither predict nor control. You can not fully forgive someone unless you admit the fullness of your anger. You cannot fully heal unless you admit the fullness of the wound. And no one can judge what is in another’s heart except God. Remember, what is heavy for you would be inconsequential to another, so don’t invalid what is heavy for another because it wouldn’t bother you.

As for ‘no stranger shares its joy’? I can be happy for a stranger. I really can. But I cannot feel joy for someone the way I feel it for myself without first loving them, without taking them to heart. If you want someone to share your joy, or your heartache, you have to let them know you. Don’t be a stranger, and don’t keep people strangers. We aren’t meant to be alone.

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