Tag Archives: feelings

June 20; Talk About It

I Kings 22:50; 2 Kings 2:1-25, 3:4-47, 8:16-29; 2 Chronicles 21:4-20, 22:1-6

God was going to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, and it seems everyone knew it. Wherever Elisha and Elijah went, prophets would give Elisha the news as though Elisha didn’t know what was happening himself. And Elisha’s response was always:

I don’t want to talk about it.

Sometimes things happen in our lives that are hard. Sometimes the signs are there that things are going to get worse up ahead. And sometimes we just don’t want to talk about it. What good would talking about it do, anyway? Right?

The Bible doesn’t record much of the conversation between the two prophets as they made their way to what would be Elijah’s last moment on earth. I hope as they walked that road together they said everything that needed to be said between them. I hope Elisha asked the questions that were on his mind, that Elijah gave his protege last words of wisdom and encouragement. I even hope they talked about what they were feeling.

The men knew God was going to come for Elijah, so they had plenty of time to say the things they wanted to say. But that isn’t always the case, is it? Sometimes we aren’t at the bedside of a loved one slowly dying. Sometimes we have no warning, no people telling us God is going to come for our loved one today. Sometimes our opportunity to say those things on our hearts is gone forever.

We don’t know for sure if Elisha took advantage of the knowledge that Elijah was going to heaven that day. The only thing we know for sure is that he didn’t want to talk about it with the other prophets. I only hope Elisha and Elijah didn’t waste the chance to say to each other what was on their minds and hearts.

I hope the same for each of us. Are there things you need to say to someone today? We don’t know if they will breathe their last breath before the day is done. We don’t know how life will change today, maybe a irreversible change. Let me encourage all of us to make that visit or pick up that phone and share what’s on our hearts while we still have the opportunity.

And may I suggest that you talk about your feelings, too. Those can be the most difficult conversations because it leaves us raw, exposed, vulnerable. But refusing to talk about how we are feeling can cause lasting damage, much more devastating than the immediate pain of getting those feelings out.

If you find it impossible to talk to that person about the things on your heart, and how you feel about it, find someone you can talk to. We need to say the words sometimes. We need to identify the feelings and admit to them. Ignoring them, or denying them, or minimizing them is never the answer.

Above all, say those things to God in prayer. I have found that when I just lay it out there, when I actually whisper those words of frustration, anger, confusion, bitterness, sadness, or whatever I’m feeling at the moment, brings a bit of release. I’m not bearing that burden on my own. The burden doesn’t always go away. But there is comfort in knowing Someone has put a bit of the load on His own shoulders.

What do you need to say to someone today? Do it. Talk about it.

I Samuel 24-27; The Answer

I’ve been dealing with (or maybe ignoring would be a better word for it) a bit of depression lately. There are several things going on at the moment, but one is the fact that I’ve gained some weight the past couple of years. I hate the way I feel, and how my clothes fit. I hate it when people take pictures of me because I’m sure the camera adds ten pounds.

And to make matters worse, I’m an emotional eater. Feeling good? Have a pizza. Angry? There’s that bag of chips. Sad? Get out the ice cream.

So the more depressed I get, the more I eat, the more weight I gain, and the more depressed I get. It’s discouraging.

Reading these chapters today makes me wonder if David wasn’t a bit discouraged, too. He’d done nothing to deserve Saul’s unfair treatment. David was forced to leave his home and live in caves so Saul wouldn’t find him. More than once, David proved his faithfulness to Saul, and each time David heard Saul promise, “I’ll never hunt you down to kill you ever again.” But Saul never keep his word, and David kept running.

If you read the psalms David wrote during this time I think you’ll agree the man was dealing with a bit of depression.  At least he was discouraged and frustrated.

Here’s what spoke to me today: We don’t always make the best decisions when we are living in that state of mind.

In chapter 27 we find that David, still on the run from Saul, finds shelter in the middle of enemy territory. He went to hide out with the Philistines (yes, Goliath’s gang). What follows is a series of really bad choices made by the future king of Israel.

I wish David would have remembered what he’d said in 26:24:

…may the Lord value my life, and deliver me from all trouble.

Here’s the thing. Depression is a result of “I”. For instance, look at the sentence I wrote earlier:

So the more depressed I get, the more I eat, the more weight I gain, and the more depressed I get.

Mine is not a chemical imbalance. It’s an I imbalance.

I read some of the psalms David may have written during this time in his life. I noticed they all had something in common. Along with heart-felt expressions of sadness, frustration, discouragement, they also included verses like these:

I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High. (Psalm 7:17)

The Lord is my light and my salvation… (Psalm 27:1)

I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13)

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. (Psalm 31:24)

I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever. (Psalm 52:8b)

I’m tired of all the well-meaning self-help books and advice, people who tell me I should “take care” of my self, or look within my self for answers. I’m the one who is hurting. Obviously what I’m doing isn’t working. When I feel like this, I should be the last person I go to for answers.

The answer to my depression is not a look within myself, but a dying to self. It’s not about focusing on me, but on focusing on my Lord. It’s not about doing what I think is best for me, but doing what God is asking me to do. It’s not about getting in touch with my feelings, but getting in touch with my Savior, not about spending time with “me,” but spending time with my Lord.

So, paraphrasing David’s words in I Samuel 26:24, let me say I know God values my life. He died to give that life to me. I am the apple of His eye, His precious lamb. And I am confident He will deliver me from all my troubles, even those I bring on my self by focusing on my self.

I have every reason to rejoice today when I look at Jesus. Everything else seems to dim in comparison.

Loving Father, thank you for Your Word to me today. Forgive me when I take my focus off of You, and place it on myself. Help me to bring it all to You and leave it at Your feet. Help me to trust You, to serve You, to love You, to praise You today. My life is Yours. If I have joy today, may it be Your joy. If I have worth today, may it be because I am clothed in Your righteousness, loved by You, and trusting in You alone.

Hey! Don’t Take My Coat!

I had a slow drain in the tub of a mobile home I lived in for a while.  No matter what I tried, it would clog up regularly. So I started a new routine. Every Saturday morning I’d pour baking soda into that drain, then dump a cup of vinegar on it and watch it go to work. It fizzed, and popped, and bubbled while the chemicals reacted to one another. Then, I would pour some boiling water into the drain and listen for it to flow freely.

Solomon tells us, in Proverbs 25:20 that singing a happy song to someone who is sad is like pouring vinegar over baking soda. The reaction is anything but soothing. Telling someone to “cheer up” or to “get over it” doesn’t help a person who is mourning or depressed. In fact, it can cause more grief. It would be like doing your happy dance at a funeral.

Sometimes people need to be sad. And if I am overtly expressing my happiness without considering their feelings, I’m just being mean. Solomon says it’s like taking the coat away from someone standing in the middle of a snowstorm.

As a middle school counselor I learned that sometimes I needed to allow the person sitting in front of me to feel the feelings. Sadness. Anger. Confusion. I had to admit that I didn’t have all the answers, that any tidbit of advice I might throw out there could make matters worse. I learned to ask, even of eleven-year-olds, what it is they thought they needed. Did they want to talk about it? Or did they just want to sit next to me and cry? There would, undoubtedly, come a time when I would direct that person to finding solutions. But sometimes that didn’t happen for quite some time. They needed to feel the feelings first.

Life is hard. Everyone goes through difficult times. Grief is personal. Depression can be a disease. You wouldn’t tell someone to just “get over” cancer, would you?

God is telling me today to choose my words, my attitude toward the people in my life who are facing hardships. Sometimes well intended words are just mean, like exposing someone to freezing weather, or pouring vinegar over baking soda. I want to be sensitive to what it is they are going through at the moment, set myself aside, and allow them to grieve, or rant, or question.

Lord, forgive me when I’m so taken with good things in my life that I walk over someone who is hurting. I don’t do it intentionally. I don’t want to make anyone feel worse than they already feel. Help me to notice the hurt in someone’s eyes or in the sound of their voice. Give me the words to say that will soothe and encourage. Or help me to keep my mouth shut and just be present. More than anything, Lord, I pray that they will be drawn to you as a result of my caring about their feelings.