Processing Disappointment #12

Let’s call her Mrs. Jones, just in case she reads this blog.

She colored my life early on.  Her role in my universe was to know everyone’s emotions.  If Jimmy Smith was going to his first day of kindergarten, Mrs. Jones “knew” exactly how traumatic this was for Mrs. Smith, and she coached us all on how to wisely and skillfully sympathize with Mrs. Smith in her deep pain, if we should happen to see her.

As a matter of fact, Mrs. Smith joyfully dropped Jimmy off at the school steps and raced off to the beauty salon to have a facial, hair cut, perm, nails and a pedicure done – without once hearing the word, “Moooooooommy!”

It did not matter how often Mrs. Jones was wrong about what other people were feeling.  And it certainly did not matter how much data you brought to the table about how other people were REALLY feeling.  She “knew” that this is what they were feeling inside, and even if Mrs. Smith appeared to be having a blast making herself feel beautiful during four uninterrupted hours without having to be a mommy, Mrs. Jones was absolutely sure that “inside” she was hurting badly over the separation from her little kid.  She just wasn’t as in touch with her feelings as the all-knowing Mrs. Jones was.

The really ugly part of it all, was that Mrs. Jones knew every emotion I had, why I had them and how long I had them – even when I didn’t have any of those emotions.

She was the community psycho-analyst and there was the occasional secret discussion about whether she was psycho or would drive us psycho with her unrelenting analysis.

Tragically, when I left Brazil, Mrs. Jones got cloned and has turned up with disgusting regularity through the decades of my variegated walk.

I never found any grace for Mrs. Jones and her despicable clones.  They all just rubbed me deeply.  I developed a fairly simple process of editing them out of my environment as efficaciously as possible.

As I pondered the discoveries from the last blog on disappointment, I realized that the lack of permission to be on the journey I am actually on, is really one of the deepest, most pervasive sore spots in my life.  Mrs. Jones was the arbiter of legitimate emotions and mine weren’t.

I am certifiably weird.

I feel things differently than most people do.  My emotions about our presidential election, the Chicago Cubs, Aleppo, BLM, Kaepernick, traffic, poor service at a restaurant, comics or LAC are probably going to be different from your emotions about the same things.

And that creates reaction.  Community is broadly about shared values, and I am almost always the odd man out, seeing life from a different perspective than most.

Historically, Mrs. Jones and her ilk have worked hard to make me feel condemned and corrupted for feeling what I feel.  In the last ten years, her work has been embraced by the whole PC culture that joyously bludgeons free speech into oblivion in the name of caring – for someone else!

If I were to live tweet the last presidential debate . . . well, let’s not even go there.

So . . . I learned to edit myself.  Savagely.  What I feel inside, is broadly kept to myself.  Because being me, is altogether too often not embraced by the general public.  They like the edited version of me, if they like me at all.

During the last two weeks of relentless external activity, I have pondered that a lot.  I am hugely in touch with how I feel.  I feel deeply about a whole lot of things.  But, over the last two weeks, I was my usual outward self, syncing broadly to the people around me.  The dual self operated flawlessly.  And a lot of people expressed pleasure in the edited self they met.

So what to do?

Being a dual person seems highly inauthentic.  Not one of my goals in life.

On the flip side, working in personal ministry requires massive control of emotions.  The person on the other end unleashes their claws and projects their anger from a previous person onto me.  After a harsh attack rant, I calmly respond with something designed to de-escalate the situation, rather than expressing my actual feelings about the personal assault.

I ponder Christ and the fact that He had exactly the same problem.  His mom played Mrs. Jones at least twice. And His disciples simply could not track with His emotions on an ordinary day, much less when highly complex dynamics were going down.  So, Jesus did what I did — no wait.  Never!  Ouch.  Freudian slip.  Let’s have a redo to this train of thought.

So I do what Jesus did and maintain an edited persona in public, while pouring out my real feelings to Father, in private.

The logic is impeccable, but there was no release from the tension.

As I chewed on it for a few more days (and nights) I realized one variable.  When people ask me directly what I think about something or another, it is usually safe for me to respond.  My answers are often miles away from where they thought I would be, but are generally received without push back.

Or to put it another way, Mrs. Jones does not ask what I feel.  When someone DOES ask about my emotional perspective of a situation, they are not carrying the Mrs. Jones virus.

I was quite surprised by the flood of warm feelings as I landed there.  I scrolled back through a lot of good memories of discussions that were deep and bilateral, because occasionally someone really DID want to know how I felt about something, and the fact that I was far from where they were, or where they thought I was, actually produced a scintillating conversation, devoid of wounds.

So I did some math.

Mrs. Jones + clones.  One quarter of one percent of my annual exposure to bipeds.

Ministry sessions requiring an impassive presentation.  Three quarters of one percent.

Self-absorbed people, busy with life, never wondering what I feel, and never hurting me.  94 percent.

Wonderful human beings, endowed with wisdom and perspicuity who take the time to honestly feel me out and who grant me full permission to feel what I actually do feel, whether they agree or not.  Five percent.

Sooooooooooo . . . why does Mrs. Jones exert such ginormous influence over my daily life when she represents such a tiny presence in my life?

Early childhood.

Our neuroplasticity is very high in early childhood.  My run ins with Mrs. Jones were traumatic and overpowering.  My inept soul built some huge neurological pathways to some very unhelpful wrong responses.  And her pesky clones re-vaccinated me every once in a while, to keep those pathways well maintained.

The reality is, I have a huge set of tools for dealing with this nonsense.  I just hadn’t seen the nonsense that needed to be dealt with.

I can take the tools from the PTSD album and disconnect from the original incident with Mrs. Jones (which I remember with scary clarity after 58 years – which says something about unfinished business right there).  Then I can very intentionally build some impressive new pathways to the joy and pleasure centers of my brain, using the tools from that album.

At the end of the day, the odds of my interfacing with someone who is interested in how I really feel are vastly greater than the odds of my meeting Mrs. Jones.  And with six months of diligent work, I can bring my pesky brain into alignment with current reality – not childhood.

Inner healing from the spirit of abandonment can only get you up to zero.  It takes active growth to develop a huge belief and a reality of inclusive community.

I can get there.

Did all this really begin with a paddle in the water?   PTSD SLG Coaching blog

Copyright September 2016 by Arthur Burk

From the Hub, early morning.




  1. Karibu says

    Arthur, it’s amazing to see how relentless Father is about pursuing unfinished business – even starting with a paddle. I identify a lot with what you’ve written. Having permission to be who you are sometimes is in tension with being able to “fit in” to society in order to have kingdom impact as you rightly pointed out with Jesus.

    I’m trying to reconcile what you’ve written, both about your experience, and even Jesus to some degree with the ideas of identity and legitimacy. It’s not that you’re inauthentic by editing your emotions, or that you feel delegitimized but is there a possibility they’re related? Note that I’m NOT trying to say you feel illegitimate in any way – that’s me pointing the mirror at myself.

    In other words, how to maintain wholeness and authenticity even when you do have to wear different hats as part of integrating into community. And at some level, are we called to courage to grate against the culture such as in the contrast you drew between John and the Pharisees?

    I appreciate your sharing your perspective. It’s not surprising to have a different view from culture when we’re called to be in the world but not of the world. Still, in this life, there are emotional repercussions for us until we learn to truly take things to Father as He deals with our unfinished business. I deeply empathize.


  2. frieda says

    hoi Arthur ..thanks again for sharing …..taking away layers of ‘ how I need to think, act etc ‘ .and giving me permission just to be as I am ……it is so precious that you share your journey …thank you …and …. …sorry I never asked …I was so interested about the stuff you share and recognising things in my life ….that I forgot there was a ‘ person ‘ with more feelings behind this …. ….may our Lord bless you with good people that really see you as you are and accept and love you !!!!


  3. Melissa says

    The world needs your out-of-the-box kinds of perspective desperately. As individual and unique as most think they are, mob thinking is rampant and utterly terrifying, (evidenced by our current cultural values and presidential candidate options). I love the way you operate counter-culture, calmly supplying sizzling, sparlking antidotes to moving-lazily-with-the-crowd apathy and shallow spewing. In my opinion the universe would be a much better place if you shared all your thoughts on everything. Well, maybe YOUR world wouldn’t be so comfy . . .
    THANK YOU for sharing!!! I admire your courage and ENcourage you to continue to voice perspectives that shine the light of truth on everyday, hidden-treasure-filled topics. You are a rare shining light of creative, intelligent, bold Kingdom-breathed thinking.


  4. Nicole says

    I’d be in the front row to hear your perspective on all those topics you mentioned plus more. I love your perspective because it doesn’t come with the usual and annoying PC filters that we normally get both in the media and the church. Even if I didn’t end up agreeing, your opinions are fascinating and backed with wisdom and experience.


  5. says

    Thank you for your honesty, Arthur. Yes, you are often out-of-the-box, but that’s what I appreciate about you; you put a fresh perspective on many issues. You sharing your journey back to the original Mrs. Jones brought back some memories to me that I need to process and deal with. You are appreciated and cherished by many, so keep doin’ what you do!


  6. Noeleen says

    I appreciate your honesty. You have shown such trust in allowing us to see this. I think that one of the facets of God’s design of humanity is that we can help one another or cheer one another on and he wants us to have that, so some healing won’t come until we are willing to share with another person what we would really only like to keep between him and us. I have had an ongoing struggle with this myself.
    You can do this – you can build those new pathways. As someone who wants to work with children, I am taking what you say to heart. Although you’re talking about a healing journey and looking back, I would like to think it’s possible to offer children something during their childhood rather than only in retrospect.


  7. Elouise van der Merwe says

    Mr Burk, thank you for sharing this. Your sharing has showed up some stuff in my own life. In my case, visiting my folks and all the strained emotions going along with that, taints my view of God the Father. So I’m going to do some detoxing and re-routing of my own.
    I’ve also had to edit much of my feelings. I am prophet RG. What’s lately brought much surprising healing to my prophet portion is reading Sandy Landry’s book “Go find my story”. I think that is very cool! I love seeing God all over my life. I am so deeply grateful for the Holy Spirit! Life without Him use to be so grim.


  8. says

    Coming from someone who delights in the joy of excellent wordsmithing, this was an awesome blog. You communicated a really gritty topic with humor and wording that sizzled. I love the lines that take me off guard. Thank you for bringing us into your thought process. I thought that where you ended up was superb. You could have stopped with the edited public persona, but you chose to continue digging and found the root. From there you could work upward towards a new area of growth. I thought the insight about the difference between Mrs. Jones and the people who actually ask and care was profound, as well as the reality of the difference in numbers. I admire the courage it takes the reframe your existing reality and embrace a whole new growth curve.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. jane62 says

    Your unique perspective continues to challenge mine and grow me in ways I never could have imagined. Thank you for being prepared to share your unedited true self. Your courage encourages me to broaden my perspective, embrace reality, and do the hard work as I bumble around and fall over myself, now beginning to fail forwards, much easier than continuing to do it backwards.
    Who would have guessed that your disappointing trip would have unleashed so much? Thank you!

    I pray Joy will infuse your day today, in surprising ways around corners, in ways you never could have imagined.


  10. Maggie says

    So glad that as an American you are able to talk about emotions , it is so refreshing. It is a no no here in my country, stoicism is lauded as righteousness. Thanks for expressing this desire to be understood and felt . It’s fresh bread which I know you appreciate .


  11. says

    Like someone watching a movie with a frustrated character, I wanted to cheer you on from my seat and then listen to what you wanted to say about how you were REALLY feeling. I was curious and wanted to hear what you were thinking. I was looking forward to your feelings shedding light from a different angle on whatever the topic was at hand. Your feelings and view did not have to agree with anyone else’s and it did not invalidate what they were seeing or thinking… it was helping to bring clarity…. I do so hope you plan on sharing your heart