A young Christian woman sent me an email in which she wrote, "I do not allow myself to feel bad, because I think that feeling bad about something means I am being ungrateful to God for all of my blessings. So I struggle with those feelings. I cry because I cry and think I shouldn’t; I feel sad because I feel sad. It’s horrible. How can I stop feeling bad for feeling bad? Is that pride?"

Dear Young Woman Who Wrote Me the Above:

The idea that being a Christian is supposed to make you happy all the time is just good ol' fashion stupid. Does Jesus strike you as Mr. Giggles? Look at John 11:33: "When Jesus saw her weeping ... he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled." Two lines later we have the heartbreaking, "Jesus wept."

Does "My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me!" sound like Mr. "Turn That Frown Upside Down"?

If there's one thing Jesus knew about, it's suffering. If God cried, I think it's safe to say that you can, too.

Listen: Life hurts. It's supposed to hurt. That's how we learn. Suffering is Teacher of the Year, every year. Emotions aren't insignificant trifles. Their whole purpose is to tell you that something real is happening with you, something beyond the range of what your brain is designed to handle. Our emotions are meant to guide us, warn us, inform us, help us. Your sadness is an indication that something real is happening with you, something that will deal with you if you don't deal with it. Trying to dismiss your sadness because somewhere along the line someone told you that being a Christian means losing half of your emotional capabilities is like drowning next to a life preserver because someone once told you that circles are bad.

Use your sadness. Learn from it. Trust it's God talking to you in the language of human suffering and sadness, a language in which he proved to us he was perfectly fluent.


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