We’ve all been through a lot the last couple of weeks. Hard news. Cancelled plans. Social distancing.
I’ve heard people share how they’re doing and then say, “But I shouldn’t feel this way….” So I wanted to pop in with a quick reminder that whatever we’re feeling today is okay. We’re created with emotions for a purpose.
Fear and anxiety are protective emotions. They help us stay alert and pay attention, so having them right now is healthy and appropriate. We need to manage them, yes, but we don’t have to make ourselves never experience them. When God says, “Do not fear” it’s almost always to someone who’s already afraid. It’s not a rebuke, it’s a reassurance and gentle invitation to trust Him.
Anger and frustration are informative emotions. We experience them when something important to us is threatened or a goal is blocked, revealing our values and desires. Graduation or wedding cancelled? Anger is appropriate. Can’t find food for your family at the grocery store? Expect to be frustrated. God doesn’t tell us to not get angry, only to not let our anger lead us into unwise words or actions.
Grief and disappointment are adaptive emotions. We’re all experiencing losses right now, some small, some huge. They all matter, so let’s not dismiss any of them as insignificant or compare. Grief and disappointment tell us, “Things are not as I hoped they’d be.” These emotions can help us adjust to a new normal, draw closer to others, and eventually start moving toward new hopes.
Joy and happiness are sustaining emotions. It can be easy to feel guilty when we have happy moments at a time when so much is hard. But these emotions let us catch our breath, keep our hearts open, and energize us so we can keep going and help others. We also don’t have to force ourselves to feel these emotions, they’ll come eventually.
Emotions aren’t the enemy; they’re temporary messengers telling us about what we’re experiencing. When one shows up, we can pause and ask…
What is this emotion telling me?
Is it true?
Now what will I choose to do?
In the weeks and months ahead, we’ll have many different feelings stop by for a visit. When one comes, we don’t have to say, “I shouldn’t feel this way.” All of our emotions are allowed. None of them are bad. They’re just not the boss.
You can also listen to this week’s regular podcast episode where we talk about how we can keep from being cynical.