Life can be hard. We are often put in uncomfortable situations. We find ourselves in unplanned circumstances. We are always trying to dodge curve balls being thrown in our direction. We cope with the challenges of life with a range of emotions. With each situation we can feel happy, sad, angry, fearful, courageous, anxious, excited, shocked, indifferent, and countless other feelings.
The title of this post might seem like an obvious statement. Of course we all feel our feelings. There are healthy ways to do that, and unhealthy ways we avoid the undesirable feelings. It becomes dangerous when we try to numb the unpleasant feelings and avoid them all together. This is how many unhealthy addictive habits start.
You’ve had a bad day, so you have a few drinks until the day gets better. You feel stressed, so you smoke a cigarette or try a new vape flavor to blow off some steam. You don’t like the life you are living, so you spend endless hours in front of your TV or computer trying to escape reality. You feel sadness that you can’t express, so you eat until you can trick your body into feeling happy. You don’t want to deal with a problem, so you don’t leave your bed for days. You feel insecure about yourself, so you get into a toxic relationship to silence that insecurity. You feel lonely, so you spend hours scrolling through social media to help fill that void. The list goes on.
My favorite thing to do when I don’t want to deal with the hard things life surprises me with is plant myself on my couch with a fuzzy blanket and watch TV until Netflix asks me if I’m still watching, and clicking yes several times. But guess what? After the show or movie ends, my problems are still there, waiting for me to face them.
I’m not proud to say that sometimes I resort to emotional eating during difficult times. There is even a whole food category labeled as “comfort food.” I’m sad, I eat something sweet to cheer me up. I’m angry, I eat or drink something to calm me down. I’m avoiding a problem, I eat something to pass the time. Clearly not a healthy way to solve anything, especially the problem of fitting into my jeans.
When we anticipated the year 2020 no one envisioned being on lockdown. The death toll rising each day. Loved ones being torn away from you, literally. Church services, schools, graduations, weddings, and all gatherings canceled. Families not being able to visit each other. Countless people losing their jobs. It sounds like a page out of a horror book.
You probably have felt and are still feeling a mix of emotions. You feel sad, angry, bored, anxious or hopeless. Those are all legitimate feelings, and I’m not belittling them. Feel all those feelings, but don’t stop there. Look on the bright side. I’m hoping as you are reading this you are healthy. So be thankful for that. Be grateful for the technological access you have to be able to call your family, FaceTime your friends, learn or work remotely, and even attend church services virtually.
Life is challenging, but don’t try to hide or numb your feelings. Face them straight on. Allow your mind to cope with whatever situation you are facing. Suppressing those feelings will only make things worse. You want to have a good cry? Go right ahead. You’re pissed off about something? That’s fine, be angry, but do not sin (as we’re told in Psalm 4).
If you’re familiar with the stages of grief, they start out with denial and anger, then lead to bargaining and depression, but end with acceptance and hope. Take your journey through all the messy feelings, but make sure you end with acceptance and hope. You can find that hope in the words of the One who controls every circumstance. Check out the Bible verses in the picture below for dealing with all sorts of challenging emotions. Dwell on His words and hold Him to His promises (the promises in the beatitudes are some of my favorites). He warned us there would be hard times, but to never lose hope. “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
There's no magic eraser to wipe away pain or any other emotion you don’t want to feel. But here are some healthy ways to help alleviate some of that pain:
Pray, pray hard, and pray again. He hears you even if it seems like He doesn’t.
Search the Bible for words of wisdom from the heroes who faced much greater challenges and came out victorious. The Psalms are filled with so many raw emotions.
Talk to someone that can help you navigate through your feelings.
Instead of opening your fridge door when you feel stressed, open your front door and go out for a walk or a jog. Sweat off some of that stress.
Get lost in a good personal development book that will teach you practical steps to face your fears.
Make yourself an upbeat and encouraging playlist of your favorite songs to change your mood when you feel down.
Journal your thoughts. It is so therapeutic to pull all those feelings out of your heart and mind and put them on a piece of paper. It will help you process what is going on inside your head. I’ve been keeping a prayer journal for years and I cannot stress how important this is. Contemplate and conquer.
Don’t forget you must run into the arms of your Savior! Pour out all your feelings before Him and watch the wonders He does with you! For He makes all things new.