Ever get stuck in a negative emotion or chosen to stay in one?
Guaranteed, every person on the planet has experienced negative emotions. If you grew up in the western culture (and this is certainly true in many Christian traditions also), you were told that negative emotions like anger, fear, jealousy and envy were all bad emotions.
I want to challenge you to not look at negative emotions as being bad
. All emotions were created by God
. They are not good or bad, they just are.
If we learn to embrace negative emotions we will be much more joyful and happy in the long run. It is unreasonable (and actually impossible) to expect to be in a positive emotion all the time. Every day we will experience a mixture of positive and negative emotions. This is natural and normal. There is an ebb and flow of emotions throughout the day.
This is not unlike many things that we label as good or bad.
Take health for example. Every person on the planet is going to get sick. Every person on the planet is going to die.
Experiencing pain can be looked at as the ultimate inconvenience and the harbinger of major illness or even death, or it can be seen as a journey towards healing and wholeness.
As I take care of patients, all of them will experience setbacks and have more or less pain. I try to help them to understand that pain is a natural and normal part of recovery
. If you can embrace the pain, then the lack of pain will be so much sweeter.
If we are feeling a negative emotion like melancholy or minor depression, we can acknowledge it and even embrace it, instead of avoiding it by self medicating, eating, drinking, shopping etc. We will have a much richer experience when things change to the positive. In the Psalms it is clear that the psalmists experience the full range of negative emotions and these negative emotions bring them closer to and deepen their relationship with God.
In a world where we try to avoid any discomfort and seek artificial ways of removing pain, we are actually causing more suffering and taking away true joy and happiness.
If your doctrine says that bad emotions and painful circumstances are a sign of lack of faith, you are in trouble because everyone
will experience negative emotions and pain if they are alive and breathing. Is this then a sign of lack of faith?
Can you imagine an elite athlete that is training hard for hours a day and competing several times a week only being happy when they are out of pain and winning?
Wow that would really be a tough go. How much better would their life be if they could embrace the pain of training
and accept failure in competition as a stepping stone to something bigger and better? As an integral part of their journey?
How about a family that is only happy when everyone is healthy and performing at their peak in school, sports, music etc? How often do we try to fix our kids when they are down and get them out of their funk with a treat? Instead, we should be helping them to understand how they are feeling and why
, and to recognize that everyone experiences a full range of emotions
. God uses the hard times to draw us closer to Him.
After lamenting and complaining about his lot in life, the psalmist concludes that God is good and He will help him get through this tough time.
"For a good man to realize that it is better to be whole than to be good, is to enter a strait and narrow path compared to what his previous rectitude was flowery licence." -John Middleton Murray.
It is better to take the narrow path and say the real thing and risk negative feedback and be whole than say the right thing and be liked.
This speaks to the peril of evaluating our success in business by only embracing the good things, or only being happy when everything is running smoothly. What percentage of time is our business running low stress and problem free? Probably close to zero percent!! If we learn to embrace the ups and downs of running a business, accept the positive and the negative we will learn a lot about ourselves and not surprisingly we will be better able to celebrate all our victories.
"But this journey bears no resemblance to the trouble free "travellers packages" sold by the tourism industry. It is more akin to the ancient tradition of pilgrimage "a transformative journey to a sacred place" full of hardship, darkness and peril." Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening to the Voice of Vocation.