How Do You Feel? Back to the Basics of Feelings

I.AM.SAD. There… I admit it. Too often I tell myself that I have no right to be sad. I should be counting my blessings or keep looking for hope sightings. Some say we should be looking for the silver lining in this crisis instead of seeing all the bad in it. That worry or anxiety about what may happen indicates a lack of faith. But these sad feelings inside of me keep multiplying as I see more lives this crisis is hurting in one way or another.

I do believe God does have a plan for good for us, but if we have a turmoil of emotions inside of us, that doesn’t mean we have no faith. God knows our every feeling, He hurts with us, and He never condemns us for any of them.

God has created in each of us a complex brain with all kinds of emotions. Our emotional health is just as important to Him as our physical health is. Stuffing our feelings down inside us and not dealing with them can cause harm to ourselves and others, even unknowingly.

I was not planning to post today as I told God I can’t because too many feelings are overwhelming my mind and my heart. Then yesterday morning, I felt nudged to “get back to the basics of feelings.” I was reminded, too, of how so many years ago when I volunteered at a social service place for children, there was a big chart on the wall with all kinds of feelings on faces. If a child could identify with one of the faces, it would sometimes open the way for him/her to process the why and start talking about it.

I found another relevant resource to help us with feelings through this corona crisis. Denise Daniels has written First Aid for Feelings: A Workbook to Help Kids Cope During the Coronavirus Pandemic. You can download it in either English or Spanish.

Even adults can find help in the sound advice this workbook has to offer. Perhaps many of us need to “get back to the basics of feelings.” We can help children within our families and/or social circles learn to be smart about their feelings and help alleviate their emotional stress, but we have to start with ourselves, don’t we?

God reminded me I need to quit ignoring or stuffing my feelings. So I acknowledged this overwhelming sadness in me and wrote out some specifics of this pandemic that cause me to feel sad. Perhaps I should write specific lists for other feelings, too, like fear, worry, and anxiety.

Sometimes a mixture of emotions overwhelms me, and I can’t even figure out why, so I start to write to God about it. Then the feelings sometimes pour out and I start processing them as I am praying to our God who understands. As I sort out my mess of feelings with Jesus, I also remember He is a Savior who cares about each one. There is not one hurt we have that He hasn’t been through Himself on this earth. Not one tear, whether on our cheek or in our heart, escapes His notice and compassion.

“When Jesus saw Mary’s profound grief
and the moaning and weeping of her companions,
He was deeply moved by their pain
in His spirit and was intensely troubled.
Jesus: Where have you laid his body?
Jews: Come and see, Lord.
As they walked, Jesus wept.”
John 11:34-36 VOICE

P.S. Just as we sometimes need a doctor for physical ailments, we sometimes need a therapist to help us process our pain and emotions. There is no shame in that. Do you need further help?

Crisis Hotlines and Resources

Each of us is unique.
What works for one does not work for another.
What feelings are you experiencing today?
What helps you to acknowledge
them and work through them?

Tears Are a Language God Understands
by Heritage Singers

Depression and Anxiety Help and Hope Resources

“Seeing the people,
He felt compassion for them,
because they were distressed and dispirited
like sheep without a shepherd.”
Matthew 9:36 NASB

“There are seasons when
doubts and fears abound,

and so suffocate us with their fumes
that we cannot even raise a cry,
and then the indwelling Spirit
represents us, and speaks for us,
and makes intercession for us,
crying in our name.”
~ Charles Spurgeon

” In the same way the Spirit
also helps our weakness;
for we do not know how to pray as we should,
but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us
with groanings too deep for words.”
Romans 8:26-27 NASB

Trapped In My Own Mind: Three Lies Depression Loves by Sarah Walton

Depression does not mean God is punishing us, does not mean God is absent, and it does not make us useless.

“Depression of spirit is no index of declining grace. It is Christ and not the absence of depression that saves us. So, we declare this truth. Our sense of God’s absence does not mean that He is so. Though our bodily gloom allows us no feeling of his tender touch, He holds on to us still. Our feelings of Him do not save us. He does.”
– Spurgeon’s Sorrows, 38–39

Anxiety in Children: How to Recognize Symptoms and Help Anxious Children by Dr. Michelle Bengston

“In recent days, anxiety has been at an all-time high not just in our country but across the world. Think your child hasn’t been anxious? Don’t be so sure. On the podcast, we’ve recently started a series on how to defeat anxiety during times of crisis. I recently recorded a podcast episode with my son taking his “emotional temperature” in the wake of spring break being extended, school-going online instead of in person, and being unable to socialize as normal with peers (Helping a Teenager with Anxiety). After talking with him, I knew we needed to have further discussion about how to recognize anxiety in children and help them.”

The Story of the Oyster and The Butterfly: The Corona Virus and Me

Bonnie Gray offers this soul care resource from a therapist who helped her through healing from emotional childhood trauma – “This free book written by a psychotherapist and author Ana M. Gomez will help children understand and process their feelings about Covid-19. A wonderful tool to spark conversations with your child. Great for adults too!”

Rebecca Hastings offers a simple guided journal.

“I have been struggling with my feelings during the Coronavirus Pandemic our world is facing. That is expected. What I didn’t expect was to struggle with PRAYING through it. I know that God is here, even in this. But sometimes it is hard to find the words when our emotions are all over the place. That’s why I made this journal for us.”

On the guided pages, there are spaces to write who God is, what we’re grateful for, what we’re honestly feeling that day, what we ask God to help us with, and a place to write out a verse from His Word.

American Psychological Association’s COVID-19 Information and Resources

Resources relevant to our mental health during this pandemic and continually updated by APA for psychologists, health-care workers and the public

Crisis Hotlines and Resources

“Need to talk to someone? Specialists are available for confidential telephone counseling.”

Covid-19 Resource and Information Guide

Helpful guide from NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) – simple actions to aid our mental health and calm our anxiety, preventing and addressing social stigma, questions answered, helplines, and more

“I often feel very grateful to God that I have undergone fearful depression. I know the borders of despair and the horrible brink of that gulf of darkness into which my feet have almost gone. But hundreds of times I have been able to give a helpful grip to brethren and sisters who have come into that same condition, which grip I could never have given if I had not known their deep despondency.” ~ Charles Spurgeon

Blessings
by Laura Story

Finding God’s Peace Through a Painful Journey

Last month an online friend, Lois, traveled through our city, and I had the privilege and pleasure of meeting her in person. When she gifted me with her book, Infertility: Finding God’s Peace in the Journey, I had no idea how much it would impact me.

It was truly a God-nudge that prompted her to give it to me as she didn’t know that God planted my children in my heart, not in my belly.

Lois wrote of her painful journey through infertility and the Biblical truths that helped her to find God’s peace in the midst of it. I would recommend this book to anyone going through infertility. But not only to those, but to all who are struggling with losses, whatever they may be. The Biblical truths God binds upon her heart are relevant to any trials and struggles we have in life.

I was captivated already from the beginning when I identified with what God spoke to her heart:

“Do you trust Me to know what
I’m doing with your life?
When you want to do it your own way,
when you start doubting My faithfulness,
when you start comparing yourself to others…
do you trust Me?” (p 11)

I’m sharing just a few of the Biblically-based truths and advice I gleaned that are invaluable to remember in every struggle or loss we may have:

God cares about our feelings. He wants us to face them. He can handle any emotion we have. Even the writers of Scripture freely shared their feelings.

 A solid starting point in our journey is to see God as He is. He is in control of everything and His plan for our lives is good because He is good. When something bad happens in our lives, it doesn’t mean He is punishing us or doesn’t love us anymore.

Praying Christ’s prayer “opens the door for the peace of God” and lays the groundwork that will enable us to make the right choices.

“Father, if You are willing,
take this cup from Me;
yet not My will,
but Yours be done.”
Luke 22:42

Look for God-sightings, “those often-overlooked little events and moments that gently remind us that our heavenly Father still loves us and is still working.”

Remember God has a different story for each of us. He knows what growth plan is best for us. (The comparison trap is easy to fall into.)

“And my primary job, as the main character in my story,
is to focus on Jesus, not on anyone else.”
~ Lois Flowers ~

Express your anger to God above all and to someone you trust, so you don’t internalize it. Many people mean well by giving advice, opinions, or bits of spiritual wisdom, but others are simply insensitive and non-empathetic.

“But you can either turn yourself into a victim
who takes offense at every wrong word,
or you can allow your circumstances to
make you more assertive, more gracious,
or more patient with others.”
~ Lois Flowers ~

Obsession with a dream or desire can lead to idolatry, placing our relationship with Christ on the back burner.

Do what’s best for you and your emotional intelligence. It’s okay to stay away from places that trigger pain.

It’s not all about us. Beware of self-absorption.

God never turns His back on us.

“He didn’t turn His back on me when I was hurting,
but He didn’t let my tears change His mind
about what He had in store for me, either.
And somehow – only by His infinite
mercy and grace, I’m sure –
I was okay with that.”
~ Lois Flowers ~

Letting go of a dream and grieving what we miss does not mean we have a lack of faith or are weak.

Jesus always understands. He asked God three times for another way, but the answer was NO.

“We despised Him and rejected Him
—a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief…
Yet it was our grief He bore,
our sorrows that weighed Him down.”
Isaiah 53: 3-4

Your Ways Are Higher Than Mine
by the Collingsworth Family

“It’s not what I prayed for
It’s not what I wanted
It’s not something I understand
My circumstances seem so confusing
I’m placing it all in Your hands

Your ways are higher than mine
I want mountains to move
You want me to climb
So I’m gonna trust Your work, Your will, and Your time
Your ways are higher than mine…”