It's Okay to Get Emotional...Really

Posted more than a year ago.

[Warning: this opening’s on the edgy side, but if you’ll stick with me to the punch line, I promise you’ll be encouraged.]

Sometimes I get really frustrated with my alma mater. There are days that I grumpily stew on notions of slow, overthought, noisy decision-making. There are other days that I nervously wonder if some ideas are happening in a vacuum…if dominoes are tipping too soon, too impulsively, and without enough community forethought.

I don’t agree with every decision, either. Some moves have left me cold, others have lit an angry fire in me, some have challenged my convictions, and others have broken my heart.

In the course of any given year, if you were to dig deep into my psyche, you’d find my moments of anger, depression, grief, apprehension, exasperation, and more. You’d also find me frequently asking “why?”

I’m a questioner, I guess. I question strategic plans. I question priorities. I question timing and people. I question the future. I question my investment. And I question my patience.

There are days that Oklahoma Christian just wears me ragged.

By now you’re probably thinking, “Wow. This is terrible marketing… Aren’t you supposed to be selling us on the great vision at OC and in Thrive?”

Yes, I am. And do you know what? I wholeheartedly believe in and support the vision at OC and in Thrive. And, if you haven’t been able to tell from previous posts, I adore this place and all the people in it. (I wouldn’t be anywhere else!)

So why open this post with such angst?

1) As much as I want you to see the process behind Thrive, I also want you to see the human element at Oklahoma Christian. And since I know no human better than I know myself, I figure I’m as good a place to start as any. First off, I don’t want to give the false impression that I’m an automated enthusiast for all things OC. That’s just not true. And I think it’s an assumption that could erode your trust in me and in Thrive if I’m not intentionally open with you about it.

I’m a committed ambassador for OC and, when a decision is prayerfully made, I get behind it even when it’s hard. But I’m not always 100% happy or carefree in my perspective. In fact, I think it’s a very healthy and wonderful irony that OC trained me to be a critical, creative, innovative thinker, because it’s that mode of thinking that drives my passionate concern for this place regularly.

I also don’t want to imply that I’m perfectly noble, humble, or collaborative in my thinking. I’m not. I wrestle with ego, jealousy, selfishness, and impatience almost daily. And I struggle to order the priorities in my life in the appropriate way—with God at the top, me at the bottom, and the kingdom-work of OC somewhere in between. I’d argue that all of us at OC are fighting similar emotions and challenges. That may sound like a given, but it’s something we don’t own up to often; and, as a result, I think sometimes we forego a lot of grace toward one another, under the misguided assumption that in our roles as Eagles we represent the OC mission and the kingdom-work it supports to the letter. We don’t.

However, I can tell you from firsthand experience that the people at Oklahoma Christian are truly something special. They’re a sacrificial, caring, deeply motivated, spiritual, servant-hearted, fun-loving, family-oriented bunch. They love our students, they love our alumni, they love our community, they love each other, and they love Jesus. I’m biased, of course, but I’d even go so far as to say they’re the best coworkers in the world. But they are people (I’m people; you’re people), and I think it’s healthy to remember that sometimes.

2) Nothing bubbles up emotion quite like the people, places, and ideals you hold most dear. Unless I miss my guess, many of the feelings I shared at the opening of this post rang true for you, too. In fact, I hope they did. Passion breeds powerful positive energy…but it also drives intense focus, deep concern, and allows the spiritual/emotional side of us to bleed into the “rational” course of business. 

Just think about the sea of emotion lapping about in your closest relationships (spouse, family member, best friend), and you’ll know what I mean.

If you care about the future of Oklahoma Christian, if you put a premium on the lives and work of the OC family, and if you feel a great sense of belonging and loyalty to this campus…then you’ve almost certainly gotten emotional with OC before (and you will again). I want you to know, at least from my perspective, that I believe that emotion is a very good thing. Don’t feel bad about it.

Your intensity of caring will drive the next chapters at Oklahoma Christian.

And you don’t have to keep those OC emotions bottled up, if you don’t want to.* Let me or someone else at OC know what’s on your mind. We might not share your opinion, but we’ll certainly get your passion, and we’ll do everything that’s appropriate and within our power to address the situation. And we will always (ALWAYS) pray with you, for you, and for our campus together, if that’s what you need.

 *Do me one favor, though, when your emotional waters are choppy, feel out the situation with the appropriate folks at OC first, before sharing your frustration with the world. You never know when the reality you don’t see could alleviate your frustration entirely. And your due diligence could be a great gift to you, to OC and to our students. It works for me all the time…could be why I’m such a questioner.

Thrive is going to be an emotional journey sometimes. We won’t all agree on every priority or every decision. There will be conflict and sparks and even hurt feelings.

But there will also be incredible highs. Earlier I listed some of the emotional lows I face yearly. Well, I also regularly encounter motivation, excitement, dreaminess, eagerness, hopefulness, fulfillment, enrichment (spiritual, intellectual and otherwise), belonging, purpose, and love. In fact, my positive emotion list could go on for miles beyond the negative one. And if you’ve found yourself emotionally vested in OC like I have, then I’d guess your positive/negative feelings equation has a similar slant.

It’s probably healthy for you and me to remember that, too.

These three years are going to be quite the rush. They’re going to work our hearts and our heads. Hopefully the highs will far outweigh the lows, but the days won’t always feel good, they won’t always meet expectations, and you’re going to want to tell somebody…

And that’s okay.

-Will