“How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, ‘I have overcome him,’ and my foes will rejoice when I fall. But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me.” Psalm 13
I get cranky sometimes. I get angry sometimes. Sometimes, I feel despondent and disappointed. Sometimes everybody in my home is cranky. None of these things are “wrong” or “bad” by themselves. It’s perfectly human to doubt or not “feel” joyful. Notice I said feel. Having feelings, be they good or bad, is not sinful. God created us with feelings and emotions. He has them and we’re made in His image. It only makes sense that we would experience this wide range of mental and emotional states.
If you read the verse above, you see David in a very negative place. I don’t know what was going on at the time, but you can bet it had him running for cover. There are times when I think David was bipolar and I take comfort in that feeling of solidarity! The important part of this text is not the beginning or the middle…it’s the end. David unloads and acknowledges his fears, sadness, and worry. He doesn’t try to hide them or act like nothing is wrong. The important thing is David doesn’t allow himself to stay there. Re-read the last two sentences. That’s the place he chooses to take up residence…in the steadfastness of his Lord.
For some reason, as Christians, we’ve bought into the lie that we should be happy all the time. After all, one of the fruits of the spirit is joy, right? I’m supposed to be joyful or I’m not a “good” Christian. That is a tall order. Regardless of everything else, what does God want from us in these situations? How should we respond when our feelings get hurt? Someone lies to us? Or when we’re face with rudeness or meanness from others?
First and foremost, I believe God wants our honesty. He knows what we’re feeling so why hide it from Him? That’s not even the best part. The best part is, our Lord and Savior has been there.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” – Hebrews 4:15-16
There’s nothing on this earth we will go through that Christ Himself didn’t experience. Isn’t easier to talk to someone when you know they’ve gone through it already and have come out the other side? Why do you think support groups are so successful?
Just in case I haven’t shared it before, I have been with Bipolar II, PTSD, Borderline Personality Disorder, and generalized anxiety and depression. There are times when my moods not only swing back and forth, but they make a complete circle around me. (Sometimes I think my husband is running for sainthood!) In that chaos and upheaval, I have learned by turning to my Heavenly Father and praying about the situation, things will settle down and the urge to lash out or collapse inside myself greatly diminishes. (For the record, I do always take my meds and see my doctors.) When I do that, although small, it is a victory for me.
I recently witnessed a good example of how keeping our eyes on Jesus helps us avoid other problems that can arise from our wayward actions. Our daughter spent a week away from Mom and Dad at camp. On the last day, as part of closing ceremonies, the cabin groups performed to various Christian songs they had chosen. Here’s what I noticed: four days is nowhere near long enough for kiddos to learn a song and the motions that go with it. However, when they kept their eyes on their counselor doing the motions from the back of the room, they looked like pros! They didn’t have to have it all down pat as long as they focused on the one who did!
I’ll be the first to admit how hard life can be. I feel sorry for myself at times…to be honest, it’s hard not to. It’s not wrong to feel that way. Feelings are not sinful but nor are they facts. The facts are what we need to center ourselves around. Repeat after me if you have to.
1. God loves me and I am made in His image.
2. He wants my honesty and for me to go to Him with my thoughts and feelings, be they positive or negative.
3. When I dwell in His presence and keep my eyes on Him, He does for me what I cannot do on my own: go through the valley and come out victorious on the other side.
The two biggest combatants I can think of when it comes to negative thoughts and feelings is prayer and scripture. You cannot stay in one place when you’re moving to another…so, MOVE! Move toward Christ…move toward His word…move toward fellow believers who love and support you. Accept your feeling for what it is then look up and take the next right step!