I was recently pondering: if I have the gospel of Jesus Christ and am so abundantly blessed, why didn’t I start feeling good until I learned about the nervous system, trauma, and attachment. And I realized it was because of spiritual bypassing. I explain how in this episode.

Scriptures

John 11 we read about the story of Lazarus, and Jesus bringing him back to life from being dead four days. Starting in verse 19…

19 And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.Then Martha has a conversation with Christ about life and death.

20 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.

21 Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.

23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.

24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.

25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son Of God, which should come into the world.

28 And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.

29 As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him.

30 Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him.

31 The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there.

32 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,

34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!

37 And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?

38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.

39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.

40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?

41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.

42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.

43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.

44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

45 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.

46 But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.

First Feel, Then Fix

In this story, if you look closely enough, you see an ORDER to the things of God.

When Martha comes to the Lord, she wants him to FIX the problem: her brother is dead. Why didn’t Christ raise Lazarus from the dead directly after speaking with Martha? Perhaps because it wasn’t the proper order of things. He calls for Mary, because he knew Mary and knew that she would be mourning. Being in Mary’s presence gave him an opportunity to mourn first, then comfort.

I find it easier to remember first feel, then fix.

We also see this pattern in:

Mosiah 18:9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort,

First we mourn with, then we comfort.

If you learn ONLY THIS ONE THING from listening to my podcast, let it be this. First feel, then fix.

In my own life, I have pondered how, if I am so blessed— if I have the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the covenants that bring me closer to God, and abundant blessings— how is it exactly that I don’t (or at one point in my life couldn’t) feel good??

Jesus Christ is the answer to every problem, right? Well then why was it that I didn’t start to feel good until I learned

1. about my nervous system

2. about trauma responses

3. about attachment?

Spiritual Bypassing

As I was pondering this one day not long ago, this concept floated into my mind: spiritual bypassing.

Spiritual bypassing is a specific form of emotional bypassing. Emotional bypassing is basically resisting or avoiding our emotions. One way we do this is by minimizing or intellectualizing our emotions or experience using our spiritual beliefs. That is spiritual bypassing. We bypass the messy emotions.

I am a life coach. I’ve been a practicing coach for five years. This concept is not new to me.

But as I was pondering how it was possible that I could have such a rich relationship with Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Spirit and YET could still not feel good, I felt like the Spirit showed me that I have been using my beliefs in God to avoid my actual emotional experiences.

You’re Allowed To Feel

When I got angry because of the sexual abuse against me and my sisters at the hands of a family member, I turned it over to God. I didn’t want to have to be angry. So I just chose to trust that someday the abuser would answer to God. And while that is true, it may have robbed me from some of my earthly experience that I am here for.

If you hear yourself saying things like:

  • everything happens for a reason
  • at least they are in a better place now
  • God works in mysterious ways
  • Be positive
  • Good vibes only
  • or anything else to try to get people to feel better during a complicated or difficult time, you may be engaging in spiritual bypassing.

Notice Jesus didn’t tell Mary to “look on the bright side.” He wept with and for her. And only then did he take is power- love- and fix the situation.

These surface level platitudes can help in the short term, but avoiding or resisting our true feelings is almost never helpful long-term. In fact, in my opinion, that is the definition of trauma. Not being able to move through a stress response, (and emotions are stressors for many of us) and instead resisting or avoiding, results in trauma.

And by the way, you don’t have to be religious to engage in emotional bypassing. Using ANY kind of platitude to minimize someone’s experience or encourage them to “think positive” instead of feeling their emotions falls under this category.

Understanding the nervous system and trauma responses helped me to stop spiritually bypassing, using my strong spiritual beliefs to justify and avoid my actual human experience. It helped me to actually start FEELING.

The Nervous System

  1. Understanding the nervous system helped me understand that overwhelm is trauma. And I learned on a deep level how I had been in a chronic freeze state most of my life.
  2. Understanding trauma helped me get why feeling our emotions is so much healthier than any alternative. Understanding trauma responses helped me see where I was in the stress response pattern and logically how to resolve and regulate, although that is an ongoing process.
  3. Understanding attachment helped me see WHY I was in a chronic freeze state, how I got there and why a freeze state is my nervous system’s go-to response for stress. Studying attachment helped me understand the generational or inherited traumas.
  4. But ultimately, working with a somatic coach, understanding how working with the body instead of the mind helped resolve trauma and regulate my nervous system, and learning how to deeply feel was the point of all of it.

Sometimes when I think about the “fulness of joy” we are all promised, I think that feeling the full range of emotions is the point of this human life. Feeling and expressing emotions is like a muscle we develop; when we feel the “terrible” emotions, we expand our capacity to feel the “wonderful” emotions.

In the LDS faith we are taught that an important part of God’s plan is to receive a body. I like to think one of the reasons having a body is so important, is so that we can EXPERIENCE emotions. In the Garden of Eden, Eve says It is better for us to pass through sorrow that we may learn the good from the evil.

Learning, growing, becoming good and holy is what this earthly existence is all about. Can we truly do that without emotion?

If you feel blessed, but not good, maybe you have been spiritually or emotionally bypassing your feelings and it’s preventing you from actually feeling good.

I would love to continue the conversation with you! What makes it difficult for you to feel good? Please let me know by emailing podcast@denitabremer.com.

Last thing, before I send you off: This is a new podcast and I think it has the potential to do a lot of good in the world. If you would like to be a part of my mission of helping people feel better with a Christian perspective, please leave the podcast a review.

It’s time to announce the 5th-and last- winner of the If I’m So Blessed Why Can’t I Feel Good Podcast Launch Giveaway is…..

Giovanna the Pianist who said: I am in love with this podcast and with Denita’s work. Her words have a magical way to touch deep down into my soul. I love how authentic and real she is and how uplifted I feel after I listen to each episode. This is also a fantastic podcast for you to share with your teens. Love, love, love it!! Keep these amazing episodes coming, girl.

You have won a $20 Amazon gift card! Please email podcast@denitabremer.com to claim your prize!

And I can’t forget the disclaimer: This contest is hosted by me, Denita Bremer, and is not affiliated with Apple, Apple Podcasts, Instagram, Facebook, Meta, or any other company.

That’s enough for now, and so are you!

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Cello music is written, recorded and produced by Jacqueline Walker.

This podcast is recorded by me, Denita Bremer, and produced by Denita Bremer Studios.