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Ok guys, sit back and be prepared for me to get real with you. As the founder of Choose Joy, I spend most of my time encouraging myself and others to remember to see the positive in each situation. And while this is a vital thing we need to do, I realize that some of you may have misunderstood just exactly what I am saying.
And, in light of that possible misunderstanding, here’s what I’ve decided to write about today: the need to feel our emotions before we redirect them.
Why am I writing about this?
Well, I had a perfect storm at church this past Sunday morning. In the days prior to sitting in the pew, several things had happened that pulled my mind to the dark places of grief and sadness. As a busy mom, I didn’t take the time to let each memory fully play out, or each sad thought to be completely wrapped up. I sort of “stuffed and kept going.”
Anyone else tend to do this?
I had every intention of carving out the time necessary to bring these stuffed emotions out and ask God to help me sort through them. But it just didn’t happen.
However, during worship, as we sang “How great is our God” by Chris Tomlin, I began to realize the stuffing option was over. You see, that wonderful song was the one I sang a capella while we were gathered around my late husband’s hospital bed. Those extreme emotions permeate every beautiful note and lyric of that song.
As if that were not enough, more and more reminders of where I’ve been were incorporated into the morning service. And, for the first time in my life, I had to leave the room for fear my crying would be disrupting.
Sitting on a bench outside the church, I ugly cried. And then cried some more. I thought. I remembered. I prayed. I processed. And finally returned to the service, but my heart felt tender for days.
In the midst of this, a random question passed through my mind. If you’re choosing joy, why are you crying?
Initially, I listened to that thought and felt a bit guilty. However, when I asked God about it, he showed me what it was…a false accusation, not a truth.
So that brings me to this article, and the fact that choosing joy isn’t denying our pain exists. It’s actually acknowledging it. Just like allowing ourselves to wallow in our sadness is damaging; stuffing, denying, ignoring or anything like that actually does harm.
But when we bring our hurts to God and ask Him to help us work through them, that’s when we are choosing joy. The act of prayer and giving our cares over to God isn’t an instantaneous fix, but rather a reminder that restoration is in the works.
On the other side of this emotional storm, my heart is lighter than it was before. The scars left from loss are slightly less noticeable. And, by allowing myself to remember those intense moments, I’m more aware of the need to cherish my loved ones.
I don’t know what you’ve been through. I don’t know if you tend to stuff or if you’ve ever thought you were failing at choosing joy because you had a few days filled with crying. All I know is that God created us with the ability to feel deeply. And I believe our emotions are a gift. Both the happy and the sad can teach us things we wouldn’t learn otherwise.
Don’t be afraid to take the moments as they come, because God has promised us that when we partner with Him in the healing process, Joy comes in the morning! (Psalm 30:5)