They Do Exist.

Being A Woman: Believing That I Am Too Much

Editor’s Note: How long have you believed that you were just too much? How many times have you shoved your heart down to your feet, believing that it was all just broken and bad? How handicapped have you become in believing that your emotions do more harm than good? How many seasons of life have you gone through, painstakingly metering out the amount of yourself you believe is bearable to others? Jillian VandeWege tweets at @jillyvandewege. Come celebrate with us that we are not too much. – Lauren

Ever since I can remember, I’ve kept a secret list, a list of the things that I’d like to change about myself. And always, always at the top of that list: my emotions.

Because ever since I can remember, I’ve felt like my emotions have been out of control. I’ve always laughed too hard, cared too deeply, cried too often. Always. Everything I did had feeling, emotions coming from my very core, every joy and hurt realized deep in my soul. No one ever told me outright, but in some way I always felt set apart from my friends – though they obviously had feelings, they never seemed to be overcome by them like I was. Everything and everyone affected me. At first it was okay; I was only a child, a child with what my mother called a special heart. But suddenly I grew up, and my special heart started to feel less and less like a treasure and more and more like trash.

And so one night I made a decision, a secret agreement: I’m too much.

Three words. Three little words, the smallest lie, planted in my heart. The lie didn’t stay small; it quietly grew and grew and grew, manifesting into a whole forest of distortion. I wasn’t just too much, I was hypersensitive, I was dramatic, I was hysterical. I couldn’t trust any emotion I had because I was convinced a part of my heart was broken, defective. Even though I had been a Christian my whole life, I began to simultaneously follow this ‘too-much’ faith, a faith that I believed with my whole entire heart. It veiled everything I saw, everything I did, everything I felt. Instead of every emotion being beautiful, I saw all my emotions as being ugly, something I had to hide from everyone. 

That’s not to say I became emotionless. A completely irrational fear, I believed that the only way people would love me was if I only allowed them to see me in small quantities, with the correct amount of feeling. Every time an emotion –good or bad – came up, I just desperately tried to stifle it, contain it in a pretty little box. And if I couldn’t control them, if my emotions became too big and I was vulnerable in any way, I would mentally berate myself without mercy: Jilly, you shouldn’t be so _____. “Shouldn’t” became the god I followed, and I followed his every rule ever so faithfully.

But then I studied abroad in Granada, Spain, for a semester last year. And in my first two months away, the life I had so carefully constructed began to fall apart. In just two short months, my boyfriend broke up with me and immediately found a new girlfriend, my cousin died in a terrible car accident a couple days before she would’ve started college, and my two very best friends struggled to survive, one battling severe OCD, the other falling into a two-and-a-half week coma after a grand mal seizure. For a girl who worked so hard to contain her emotions, I was completely overwhelmed. A whole ocean away, I cannot even begin to describe to you the depth of crippling desolation I experienced, how absolutely helpless and alone I felt. My special heart was struggling to burst out of its pretty prison, and I was struggling to keep it caged. My world literally became too much, and suddenly my ‘too-much’ faith wasn’t making any sort of sense.

It shouldn’t make sense. The veil I looked through for so long was thrown off, and I began to truly see the blatant lie I was functioning under. It wasn’t that I was just hiding my true self from everyone I loved, I was trying to hide it my very own Father. Isn’t that so silly?  Quietly, God began whispering the truth: I’m never too much for Him. God made us for relationship, for emotion. A perpetual good girl, I always read my Bible and tried to understand and implement what it said, but in Spain, I began to read it in a whole new way: instead of finding a faith full of rules, I found a faith full of feeling.

Jesus was FULL of emotion, and he never held any of them back. He was joyful (Luke 21:10), he was righteously angry (Matt. 21:12), he was overcome with sadness (Luke 19:41). The whole Bible, every single book, displays people filled with feeling, trying to figure out how to live in this terribly fallen world. David pours out his heart, Jeremiah grieves, Paul is desperate to bring people to salvation.

The problem, I discovered, wasn’t that my emotions were too much. The problem was that I wasn’t bringing them to God. In a certain sense, I was right: my emotions ARE too much for me. But that does NOT mean they are too much for God. I dishonor my Father when I try to hide them, when I hate my heart instead of celebrating the way He made me. My heart – your heart – is beautiful to God. What I feel, how much I feel – that is His workmanship. Do I still think emotions can be dangerous? Absolutely. But I believe when I’m honest with myself and more importantly, when I’m honest with God, He will save me from that danger.

When I claim Jesus as my Savior, my heart is good. It is the wellspring of life!

Even though it was the most difficult time in my whole 22 years, my time in Spain didn’t destroy me – it saved me. It’s been extremely exhausting, but every day, I uproot the trees in my forest of self-hate. I’m still learning.

But I’ve abandoned my ‘too-much’ faith and embraced the One who reminds me every day of His unfailing love, that my heart is indeed a special heart, emotions and all.

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42 Responses

  1. Such a great post. I definitely identify with this. I've always been the emotional one. My friends know me for it. They congratulate me if something that would normally upset me doesn't cause tears. Which ends up being more disheartening because it's like they're just waiting for me to have a breakdown. I hate how it transfers to the happy end of the spectrum too. I feel like I laugh too loud or get way too excited about things. Thank you for reminding me that God can handle all of my emotions, no matter how extreme they feel to me. This is exactly what I needed to be reminded of.

    January 25, 2012 at 9:22 am

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  3. Victoria

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. This was like a sweet melody to me. If there is one thing I am always describing myself as, it is "too much". YOU ARE NEVER TOO MUCH! And neither am I. God created your indeed special heart for a reason. Keep on being you… for all the rest of us out there who have hearts just the same.

    January 25, 2012 at 10:45 am

  4. Joanne

    Thank you for this amazing post! I have always thought the same way about my emotions and I cried while reading this because I know God wanted me to see it. Thank you again for helping me realize that my emotions may be too much for me to handle but they are never too much for God to handle. God Bless!

    January 25, 2012 at 10:55 am

  5. Beautiful and wonderful post!! I understand exactly where you're coming from because I too have told myself so many times that my emotions were "too much" but you hit the nail on the head! In a sense they are too much… for us! Not for God. Thank you for sharing this!! Many blessings!

    January 25, 2012 at 11:40 am

  6. steph500

    Such a great post. There is a book called "Captivating," by John & Stasi Eldridge, that deals exactly with this topic–that we as women feel that we are at once too much and never enough. Thank you for sharing your story and keep uprooting that forest!

    January 25, 2012 at 11:40 am

  7. Thanks for sharing such an awesome post! I know exactly how you feel. Your words are such an encouragement to me. May God Bless you! <3

    January 25, 2012 at 12:27 pm

  8. This is wonderful. I don't know where learned that being a woman is too much, but we all have at one point. We have all tried to be something more, something different, something else. The day we start embracing who God made us to be is one of the most fulfilling, life-changing days we'll ever have. Love this.

    January 25, 2012 at 2:31 pm

  9. Thank you SO much. You have no idea how incredibly encouraging and affirming this was for me. Thank you.

    January 25, 2012 at 6:12 pm

  10. Claire

    Your post really struck a chord with me. While I am not a very emotional person, I have often told myself I need to "tone it down," that who I really am is too much, exactly like what you said. It's so good to be reminded that it is not true!

    January 25, 2012 at 8:06 pm

  11. Carrie

    So proud of you for putting yourself out there and reaching out to anyone who feels the same way that you do. You touch everyone that you come into contact with by just being yourself….

    January 25, 2012 at 8:37 pm

  12. So beautiful!! Thank you for sharing this!

    January 25, 2012 at 9:25 pm

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  14. Liz

    Oh Dear Jillian. I often see a ministry and think "we need a really passionate person for this position." You sound as if you are FULL OF PASSION. Plus, and more importantly, you LOVE Jesus. God made you. It is incredible to think he gave you all of those crazy awesome emotions for a reason, for His kingdom. Thank you for sharing.

    January 26, 2012 at 1:04 am

  15. Besh N.

    Wow. Someone who understands. THANK YOU.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:44 am

  16. emmmilyjane

    Thank you for this post! While you were in Spain at 22, I was on a mission in India, where ridding on elephants and seeing wild monkey filled me with a rapturous, child-like thrill. My teammates affirmed my spirit, calling it "explosive joy." But my emotional pendulum swings the other way, too. I also once felt I laughed too loud, cared too deeply, and cried too much. I may sometimes envy friends who seem calm and stable, but only for a second, as I know God created me with this sensitivity of spirit. We feel deeply, and God feels deeply for us.

    January 26, 2012 at 2:12 pm

  17. Lindsay

    I internalized that “too muchness” so much as a child that I became alexithymic. Now I’m an adult who apparently feels things very deeply (as indicated by the fact that I get teary-eyed easily and often), but has lost the ability to even recognize what they are, much less express them constructively. I’m working with a great psychotherapist to address the problem, but it’s entirely likely this was at its root.

    August 15, 2012 at 9:51 pm

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  19. AWESOME POST! Wow…it really hit home with me. Thank you and God bless you as you keep sharing your heart! I've launched a sorta similar movement for women, Daughters of the King Daily Devotionals. Feel free to visit us online Thanks.

    November 5, 2012 at 12:38 am

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  38. Amazing post. Thank you.

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  39. Great POST! Wow…it truly hit home with me. Much obliged to you and God favor you as you continue sharing your heart!

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