Advice From My Dad

One of the most important lessons of my life, I learned from my Dad.

I was a teenager and we were driving down the road. I sat in the front passenger seat, and my Dad was driving. I’d always had big emotions growing up. Big emotions and big opinions. This moment was different though, and my Dad must have sensed it. I didn’t feel anything. I couldn’t cry, I couldn’t scream, I couldn’t think, I couldn’t feel.

My friend had died.

I stared out the window watching the world go by.

My Dad’s voice broke the silence as he said, “Don’t do this Joy.”

I didn’t know what he was talking about. I looked at him with a questioning look and the next few sentences have impacted my life forever. My Dad said, “Do not feel nothing. Do not let yourself go numb. You need to feel this pain. Feel it all, and feel it as deep as you can.”

This was not what I expected my Dad to say, and it’s not what I wanted to hear. But then my dad added these words:

“Feel the pain, because if you don’t, you won’t be able to experience joy on the other side. The amount that you don’t feel pain is the amount that won’t be able to feel joy.”

I don’t know if this statement has ever been studied or measured, but I have found it to be true. Numbing pain somehow numbs joy. I am committed to feeling pain, but not staying there. I want to live a life that it full of love and experiences… and this will ultimately bring both pain and joy.

There have been times when my pain has been too overwhelming or that I got stuck in my pain, and this is where my therapist has stepped in. I have a therapist that has walked with me through pain and helped me get unstuck when it was paralyzing. Sometimes I can do it on my own, and sometimes I can’t. I can tell you one thing though, I am committed to feeling the pain. I’m not afraid anymore of pain, because there are moments of joy, sometimes small moments, but moments of joy that fill my life and that I do not what to miss.

One more thing: Now that I’m a parent, I realize this advice from my Dad is even more important than I first realized. I hate it when my kids go through pain. I want to protect them from all bad experiences. But then I remember that one day (a while ago now) my Dad believed I was strong enough to handle what life threw at me. So now, when I see my kids going through something out of their control that is hard, I let them feel the discomfort, and face their own hard. I remind them that they are strong enough to walk through the painful events of life… and that there will be moments of joy on the other side. This might be harder for me than having to face my own hard.

So friends, life is messy, but I hope you can live a life where the moments of joy are worth the pain you will undoubtedly have to walk through. Don’t get stuck, and reach out when you need to!

Thanks Dad ~ I’m still feeling the pain and the joy.

6 thoughts on “Advice From My Dad”

  1. Andrew Benson

    I almost scrolled by this on my FB feed. Glad I didn’t. Thank you for posting this extremely timely piece. Love you cousin.

  2. Angie Saunders

    This advice is what I have been telling myself as I’m going through my divorce. I agree completely. Take the time to feel everthing. It’s the only way I will be able to fully heal. I tell the kids the same thing. I’m so glad others feel the same way.
    I believe your father has a gift of counselling and mentoring others. I always enjoyed listening to him. You are blessed Joy. Take care

  3. Karey Ingalls

    Hi Joy!
    Your dad is very special and the advice he gave you is right on! Grief, pain is a messy process and can be applied to many situations in our life.
    Thank you Joy

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