Updated: Jul 6
It’s raining outside this morning.
Whenever it rains, I like to sit next to the window and look out. This morning, as I look out at the overcast sky, I can’t help but think about my emotions. I find myself thinking about how much my emotions drive my life in certain seasons. For the past couple of months, I feel like I have been up and down emotionally. One day, I can wake up feeling joyful and ready to take on the world, but then, there are days like this one, where I wake up feeling pretty dismal and down. If you’re anything like me, when you find yourself up and down emotionally, you have a tendency to beat yourself up. I know that Jesus calls us to walk in joy and peace (Philippians 4:4; John 14:27), so the days when I struggle emotionally, and I don’t feel joyful or peaceful, I often feel like I’m doing something wrong—I feel like I’m letting Jesus down.
Recently, however, the Holy Spirit has been teaching me that there will be days when I don’t feel happy or joyful or even hopeful, but that doesn’t mean that Jesus condemns me or is shaking His head at me in disappointment or shame. God is teaching me that when I find myself in these moments, I can turn to Him. I can look to Him for the help that I need to overcome my emotional turmoil and allow Him to not only soothe my downcast heart on days when I feel down, but to show me how not to be controlled by my emotions. I am writing this blog for those of you who struggle emotionally and fully understand my experience. In this day and age when emotional and mental health is being discussed more frequently, I think that it is so important to also talk about it as believers. How do we cope with emotional uncertainty and turmoil? How do we negotiate the sadness that we sometimes feel alongside the command that God gives us to rejoice in the Lord, always? How do we handle emotions like sadness and pain, or betrayal and bitterness as believers? These are some questions that I have been grappling with in this season of my life. For a long time, I felt like I had to sort through questions like this alone, and then go to God when I felt emotionally secure. However, the more time that I spend in the word, specifically the book of Psalms, I’m realizing that expressing our emotions and being honest about how we feel is not a bad thing. I’m learning that Jesus wants us to talk about how we feel honestly, with Him, and with people that we trust.
In Psalm 42:3 (NIV), the Psalmist says that his tears have been his food all day long. I always gravitate to this verse whenever I feel sadness or pain, because I feel like it is an accurate interpretation of how I feel in these moments. The Psalmist is brutally honest with God, and He expresses his sadness without fear or condemnation. I especially love that in this chapter, although the Psalmist is struggling with discouragement, he is commanding his soul to hope in God. He didn’t ignore his sadness and forced himself to hope; he instead embraced the sadness that he felt but then reminded his soul to hope. I find myself following this same pattern whenever my spirit is grieved and I believe that God wants us to do the same. We can allow ourselves to feel what we feel, whether it be sadness, uncertainty, betrayal, pain, or any other negative emotion; yet, we don’t allow these emotions to overtake us. We instead command our souls to hope in God. We remind ourselves that God is faithful and that although we are struggling emotionally, we are not without help (Psalm 46:1).
I pray that as you read this blog, and the blogs to come in this series, you will not only learn to embrace your emotions, but that you will understand that Jesus wants to be a part of the process. He wants us to come to Him with how we feel. He wants us to be brutally honest like the Psalmist.
He wants us to know that yes, we may struggle with our emotions, but we are never without help.