Trials come and trials go. There are many days, like today, where all I want to do is curl up in a corner and cry. Yet I have found that even on the days I do want to cry, and I have the opportunity to do so, the tears will not come. I cannot physically force myself to cry. I have tried everything from saying every horrible thing that happened to me recently out loud, to just sitting there and staring blankly at the wall, to reminding myself of how alone I feel in the hopes that tears will come. I have even tried watching a sad movie and/or listening to sad music. While these methods occasionally help me dredge up tears, more often than not they simply make me feel more miserable.
Why do I do this to myself? Probably for the same reason others, especially women, do – help release the bottled-up emotions creating that knot in our chest and the sick feeling in the pit of our stomachs. Crying is supposed to help relieve pressure. Relieve built-up emotions. This is the belief I have held all my life.
Until recently, that is.
I had a good friend tell me of another friend’s counsel to her. We try to make ourselves cry in the hopes that it will help us feel better; but why not laugh instead? Why does it always have to be tears that relieve our pain? I was struck with how true that statement was. Looking back on my life, I noticed that 9/10 of the times I start out feeling miserable, good company and laughter brought more joy to me than sitting in a corner and crying for two hours.
Don’t get me wrong – tears have a purpose, too. Jesus Himself wept when the time was right. But as Solomon says, there is a “time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn; And a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4).
I think the most important lesson here is to not try to conjure up any emotional response. When I am sad, unless I am crying, assume that I don’t need to cry. At the same time, I need to not assume that I need to laugh. There is a process to how to respond to emotions. There is a time to let myself feel depressed, and a time to put my head up and say, “All right, that’s enough. I have acknowledged that I am sad. While I am still not okay, it is time to put my cares aside.” Overthinking how I am feeling only results in bringing more pain, confusion, and often false thoughts to my already-messed-up brain.
Here are some ways that I process through sad emotions. Perhaps they will assist you the next time you feel sad or depressed:
- Acknowledge that I am sad.
- Find the source of why I am sad. If there is no direct reason, either ask God or assume that there is no good reason.
- If there is no good reason, put aside the sadness until it comes to surface again. Then identify the source and take care of it.
- If there is a good reason, take care of it. If I am at work, lay aside the emotions or make a note of it somewhere to take care of later. If I am home, let myself cry if my body allows me to do so. If not, surround myself with people that will uplift me. Laugh when they laugh, and don’t focus on what is wrong with me. Enjoy being in their company as much as possible.
- Tell Jesus that I feel sad. If I am still at the point that I don’t know what is wrong, ask Him. He will either reveal it to me or help the feeling go away.
Sadness is a God-given emotion. Laughter is a God-given and natural medicine. Both are necessary for being both Christian and human. The key is to not let either one take over every thought, word, and deed of the day. God made life to be enjoyed, not to be constantly second-guessing and beating ourselves up.
Finally, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Always something to look forward to. If necessary, I grasp onto that good thing and hold onto it with all my might. Again, I try not to focus on it so much that it takes over all my thoughts and actions; but it is better than focusing on the negative emotions.
It is okay to not be okay. Even Jesus had His moment where He asked God to take away the pain and sorrow He was about to endure on the cross. The important thing is to always look to Him for comfort. He experienced pain far more than any human can experience. Because of this, He is far more capable than anyone else to take pain, shoulder it, and carry it for you and me. Not only that, but He is more than willing to do so. He is practically standing on the doorstep, begging for us to let go so we can walk light and free! Praise the Lord for His goodness and everlasting faithfulness through the storms and trials of life.
“Healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed. It means the damage no longer controls your life.” -Akshay Dubey