Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Feeling Down

The comment:
I'm extremely blessed and lucky and have so much to be thankful for BUT sometimes it's hard to not be down and want more. How can I live life to fullest and be thankful for my blessings while also knowing its ok to be down sometimes or how can I get out of that "down" feeling?
As easy as it is for me to spout off verses and quotes and great ideas for how to be content no matter your circumstances, it's always a bit trickier than that. Because, you're right. Sometimes, even when life seems to be going really well, it's possible to just feel 'down'. 

I think there's this unsatisfied feeling that we're occasionally going to enter into simply by existing here on earth. A feeling that, 'This isn't how it's supposed to be.'... and maybe a few days later, you'll feel the exact opposite. It's the nature of our fallen world mixed with our crazy emotions, and sometimes our crazy hormones (yes ladies, unfortunately, I do believe that they can play a pretty big part on the 'down' feelings we encounter every month or so). 

The most crucial part of encountering the 'down' feeling is how we respond to it. It seems there's a lot to be said for recognizing that this feeling doesn't define us, and also not letting it dictate how we live our lives. 

What I mean by that is this: 
When I'm feeling down or can admit that something may not be how I want it to be in my life, regardless of the millions of things that I do have to be thankful for... it's easy to slip into 'pity-party' mode. It's easy to focus on the negative and to allow ourselves to only see what we are missing vs. what we have. Sometimes we allow ourselves to dwell so much in what we don't have, that we begin to see ourselves in terms of what we are missing. Instead of choosing to live a life that's filled with giving, serving, interacting with and loving others we may begin to isolate ourselves, spend time alone feeling sorry for ourselves, believe that other people want to have nothing to do with us. Our opinion of ourselves in the midst of our pity-party can become the lens in which we filter everything else through, often putting distance between ourselves and others. This typically allows room for lies to breed and for us to slip further into feeling sorry for ourselves (often times unnecessarily). 

Don't feel like you have to fake your way out of the 'down' feeling. Actually, I think it's really healthy for us to acknowledge the 'down' acknowledge that they are real and that they have an effect on us. I think it's good for us to admit this to ourselves, the Lord, and to others as we then choose to not live/dwell in that mindset. To be able to say, 'I'm having a bad day, and I'm not even sure why...', but then to persevere through that. There's something really powerful in admitting what's going on and then inviting others into the 'down'-ness with you. Oftentimes surrounding yourself with others is a good way to be reminded that there's much to laugh about and the things you are 'down' about and feel are lacking in your life are really quite trivial. 

Sometimes I think there's also an okay-factor to just being 'pathetic' for a few hours or a night. To step into a comfortable place and to do things that are fairly mindless and purposeless (like chow down on some cookie dough while watching your favorite sit-com by yourself). I think the danger comes when that becomes our norm and seeking out others, being invested and involved in other things becomes the rare occasion. But, sometimes you just need a night alone. Sometimes a day just feels sucky (even in the midst of all the good stuff going on), and you need to veg out. I get it. Just don't dwell there. 

And, I think there's that whole being honest with the Lord factor that's going to be vital here. Those times when you can tell Him all the things that you're truly thankful for, but that you're still just feeling down for whatever reason. The more you talk to Him (like really talk to Him), the more you'll find yourself in a better place....even if sometimes that means in the middle you're weeping and blabbering. When you continue to talk and push through all of that, He's pretty good at reminding you of who He is, what His promises are, what He thinks of you, and what really matters in life. Try it. 

I think it's fairly normal to have a 'down' day every now and again. But, if that's your norm and you find yourself there all the time, even when you can recognize all the good stuff going on... I'd encourage you to seek out some professional help. Well, let's be honest. I'd probably encourage everyone to seek out a counselor just because of how healthy and good it can be to have an unbiased party listening and offering insight into your life (and because I'm going into the field and I want your business......). 

While I said it was easy to throw some verses at you that sometimes don't seem super helpful, I encountered one recently that I found especially insightful. Perhaps you've heard it before: I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Despite what you've maybe heard about this verse (like that somehow in reciting it to yourself you would be able to fly to the moon and back), it has everything to do with finding contentment, no matter our circumstances. It has everything to do with God's provision...that despite our poverty or our wealth....despite what we are lacking or what we have... that with Christ we are able to persevere through anything because of the strength He supplies us. 

I think it's especially applicable as you are thankful for what you have and yet, sometimes, unsatisfied with what you do not have. Through Christ, through what He has already accomplished for us on the cross, we can endure....and because of that, contentment can be found (even if it's not instantaneous). 

Life is hard. 
Truly it is. 
I think it's unfair of us to expect and demand giddiness through the 'down' moments. And, I think that sometimes that as we persevere through the 'down' feelings and seek to live in a way that is honoring to the Lord... that we are learning more of what it means to live life to the fullest, that we are learning more of what it means to be truly thankful for the things that we do have. I think the more we choose to respond in a way that isn't so focused on ourselves and our feelings of want, the more we step into a place of learning a truer meaning of sacrificial love. 

Be honest. 
Be real. 
Be raw. 
Remember that you're a work in progress and allow the refining to happen, recognizing that it's rarely an easy (or quick) process. 

It's okay. 
It's life. At least right now. 

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1 comment:

  1. I have recently learned that you must acknowledge how you feel in order to get through things. When I was a kid I was really emotional, but eventually I started to just brush my emotions aside, numb myself, and was convinced it was just mind over matter. But that didn't work.

    Recently, something happened that really discouraged me. And I wanted to pretend the words someone said didn't affect me. But I told my friend with me. "I am upset. I've learned I have to acknowledge how I really feel."

    What did I do with that? I asked if she would step outside with me and pray with me. She did, and I clung to God and asked him to speak truth into my heart.

    Hope that helps.