Have you ever felt bad for feeling bad? Aren’t Christians supposed to be happy? But what if you’re feeling depressed and sad? If you trust God, shouldn’t you feel calm and secure, not anxious and fearful?
Sometimes we’re not sure what to do with our negative emotions. And we often choose extremes when it comes to handling them.
On one extreme, we deny our negative emotions. We stuff them inside, put them in a box, and slam the lid shut on that mess! (As an Enneagram 9, I’m an expert at this!) Other ways we avoid dealing with negative emotions might be eating/drinking too much or getting so busy we avoid those hard feelings. Or maybe you’ve gotten good at saying, “I’m fine,” when you’re anything but.
The other extreme—we vent every negative emotion we feel. Outbursts of anger; venting of criticism and complaints; lashing out at others.
So how can we handle our negative emotions in a godly, healthy way?
One of my recent favorite books, Peter Scazzero’s book, Emotionally Healthy Sprituality, has had a tremendous impact on me when it comes to emotions. (I feel like I underlined the whole book!) He writes,
“To feel is to be human. To minimize or deny what we feel is a distortion of what it means to be image bearers of God. To the degree that we are unable to express our emotions, we remain impaired in our ability to love God, others, and ourselves well.”
Being made in God’s image means we are emotional beings so we can embrace all our emotions.
Here’s a list of some negative emotions that are sometimes hard for us:
Hurt, anger, irritation, discouragement, fear, anxiety, depression, humiliation, sadness, grief.
How do you feel reading that list? In the past that list was hard for me to read. But as I’ve learned healthy and godly ways of processing my emotions, I am feeling more comfortable with dealing with these.
Here’s some healthy habits I’ve adopted:
If you’ve been following me, you know I’m a big journaler. It’s a way for me to process. Sometimes just the act of writing loosens my thoughts, and then my emotions. If that’s not your thing, that’s okay!
Does anyone else feel bad for feeling bad? I’ve learned not to feel bad about my negative feelings, and so can you. A journal is a safe place to get all that negative stuff out.
Share with Jesus
God can handle all of us, including our negative feelings.
In Psalm 62:8, we read, “Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us” (NASB).
The Hebrew word for “pour out” means to spill forth; to gush out.
Have you gushed out your feelings in prayer with Jesus? That’s exactly what He invites us to do.
Share with a loved one/friend
There is nothing like a trusted friend to share with. A good way to find a trusted friend is to be a trusted friend.
Reread Peter Scazzero’s statement above. To sum up, if we don’t embrace emotions, we will fail at loving God, others, and ourselves! Wow.
The practices above will help us avoid the two extremes of denying vs. venting our emotions.
Any other suggestions for handling our emotions?
I’d love to know!
Take good care,