Sit with it

How are you? Fine.
How’s your day? Good.
What’s new? Nothing much.

Lie. Lie. Lie.

Have you ever been courageous enough to respond . . . 

How are you? Honestly, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed. And pretty lonely.
How’s your day? Well, my family was fighting this morning, so it’s not so great.
What’s new? I’m really worried about my job—or boss or friend or church or kids or parents or health.

Ever feel as if you have to slap a smile on your face and pretend you’re okay even when you’re frustrated, anxious, or disappointed? (I’m sure you do. I do. After all, I shared last week how I was working to rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances.) 

But what happens when you really are disappointed when it snows in the middle of April? How about when you’re disappointed when the pregnancy test is negative? What if you’re stunned because it’s positive and this isn’t in your plan? What about the times when the friends you thought were truly friends slowly pushed you out of their lives? Or when you aren’t as close to your grandchildren because your relationship with your children is strained? 

A friend of mine was having a pretty rough day last week. Usually a fairly positive person, she was having one of those days when everything seems worse. Some things happened that, had they taken place on any other day, might have stung a bit, but on that day . . . well, they cut deep. Sadness seemed sharper. Disappointment more painful. She knows God is good and she is thankful for all the blessings he’s given her. But still . .

Instead of just telling her to get over it, that other people have it worse than she does, that she should be grateful for the stuff she does have—instead of just slapping a smile on it—I let her cry, I hugged her, and we “sat with it.”

You see, there’s a whole lot of ways we can take our disappointment and channel it into something unproductive. We stuff our emotions by eating. We conquer loneliness by getting into the wrong relationship. We dull the pain with alcohol. We get an adrenaline rush from shopping.

Have you read the book of Psalms in the Bible? It is full of complaints and grievances and disappointment. If God chose to put those raw emotions in his Book, he’s not threatened by our emotions either. In fact, he tells us to talk about them when he says, “Call on me in the day of trouble” (Psalm 50:15).

When things aren’t going the way you thought they might, talk to God about it. Give him your worries, sadness, wants, requests. Then end your conversation with him the way many of the psalms end—with praise. Remember that you aren’t alone, that God loves you and will never leave you, and that this world’s pain is light and momentary (even if it doesn’t feel like it).

If today is hard and lonely and it’s not going the way you wanted, go ahead and grieve the loss of the plan you wanted. Then get up, dry your tears, and live the plan in front of you.

Linda Buxa is a writer and editor who learned the phrase “sit with it” when she heard a young adult who had spent time in a mental health hospital speak about her treatment. “Sitting with it” may feel awful at the time, but it’s a lot healthier than some other coping mechanisms.

 

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