As we conclude this series of articles about dealing with unwanted feelings, I will again remind you of the e-mail that we used to introduce our topic.
I woke up hurting and aching about the adoption this morning, and the feeling never left. Seeking HIM and seeking the peace and clarity that only HE can give.
Could you please pray for me to find my comfort in Christ? And to trust HIM. If you have time, could you please send me a Scripture that brings you comfort in times of loss? I will meditate on it. Amy
If you haven’t been following these Mom’s Corners about negative feelings, I suggest you go back and read the first four articles so that you have the whole picture in your mind before you continue this one.
Choosing Right Thoughts
One mom wrote to share with me something that helps her with unwanted feelings. I wanted to use her exact words as I told you her suggestion, but when I went to retrieve them, I couldn’t find her letter. She explained that she had once heard a speaker say that if you memorize Psalm 103, you will never again experience depression. She had chosen to do that and had discovered incredible victory over her negative feelings that were manifesting themselves in depression.
Even though I can’t vouch for the speaker’s words that if you memorize Psalm 103, you will never have depression again, I thought Psalm 103 would be one I should memorize for my personal use and to share with others. This is especially true because I have had to deal with depression in my past, and I regularly hear from moms who are in the midst of depression. While I am only on verse ten out of the twenty-two verses in my memorization, let me show how this Psalm begins:
“Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalm 103:1-5)
In reading Psalm 103, we can quickly see that the focus is on the worship of God and gratitude to Him for all He has done for us. When we set our hearts on praise and gratefulness, there isn’t room for the negative feelings to control us.
Physical Components to Emotional Stress
If you are struggling with unwanted feelings on an ongoing basis, I encourage you to evaluate whether there is a physical component to it. How is your diet? Are you consuming white sugar, white flour, and caffeine, or are you eating healthy, nutritious food? What about getting adequate sleep? Are you exercising? Those are areas of your life that you have control over and that you can change so that they do not drive your negative feelings. Perhaps as you get those aspects of your life where they need to be, the feelings will be resolved in the process. It is ultimately possible that the root cause of negative feelings could be a health issue that would be helped by the attention of a medical doctor.
Sometimes we try to justify our negative feelings because we think they are hurting no one but ourselves. However, if we face the truth, we have to realize that those emotions do indeed affect not only our lives but also the lives of others, especially those we love the most, our families. This is easy to see with something like anger because the recipient of anger is likely going to be emotionally hurt by the anger. However, if we give in to worry, that will affect our words, our countenance, our responses, and our interactions with those who are close to us. If we are lonely and begin to feel sorry for ourselves, that will as well reach beyond us to those with whom we live.
Living with Chronic Pain
Let me give you a personal example of this. I have lived with chronic back pain for many years. One day last week, I had my normal back pain plus a new pain that caused me to hurt every time I took a deep breath. I knew this new pain was temporary and would be gone in a day or two, but it still hurt right then. In addition, I had a sort of allergic reaction in my mouth that was causing the roof of my mouth to burn, ache, and itch. That morning a family member shared with me something I had said to them that they felt had an attitude behind it.
Were any of those very big problems? No! However, added together that day, they presented a spiritual battle. Rather than fight the spiritual battle with my thoughts of self-pity, I decided to cry. Here is the outcome of my good cry.
- Red, puffy eyes
- A terrible headache
- A runny nose even after I stopped crying
- A perpetuation of my self-pity
- A bleak countenance
- A concern in the family manifested by them asking me if I was okay
- An insecurity in one family member indicated by her thinking she was the cause of my crying
- A sadness that pervaded our home that evening.
As I evaluated that period of crying, I couldn’t figure out one positive benefit that had come from it. All the outcomes were negative. At the moment I chose to cry, I also had the opportunity to choose what I have been encouraging us to do in these articles. Had I done those things, God’s grace would have given me the strength to accept the pain and discouragement and move on with my day.
Remember our key verse from the first article: “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Galatians 5:16-17).
We walk in the Spirit by seeking the Lord’s strength in prayer (2 Corinthians 12:9). We do it by taking those negative thoughts captive and bringing them into the obedience of the Lord (2 Corinthians 10:5). I could have had a grateful heart thinking about others who have so much more pain than I do (1 Thessalonians 5:18), and then prayed for them rather than feeling sorry for myself. Had I begun to put into my mind the verses that I have memorized, gotten out my notebook of special Bible verses, or opened my Bible to read it, the self-pity would have been neutralized by God’s abundant grace. Even getting up and getting busy would most likely have set me walking in the Spirit rather than fulfilling the lust of my selfish flesh.
By the next morning, I had repented of my negative, self-focused thoughts, asked my family’s forgiveness for how they were affected, and moved on with the Lord Jesus for a new day. I encourage you when you fail to do the same. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Remember that His mercies are new every morning. “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
I want to encourage you to deal with your negative feelings rather than succumbing to them or believing yourself to be a victim of them. Not only will you benefit from this change but those around you will benefit as well. My prayer for my life and for yours is that we would continually walk in the fruit of the Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).