Allowing Negative Emotions
Everyone has an instinct reaction to escape pain. This is good for us. It’s the reason we’ve survived as long as we have.
But this reaction can also hurt us. If we keep escaping the pain of negative emotions, we won’t know how to grow through them.
In the Bible, we see many of the disciples and major players grow through their negative emotions to arrive at the joy that’s on the other side.
One of the greatest obstacles to joy is our inability to sit with negative emotions.
We try to escape them, ignore them, and numb them, but these actions only increase the strength of our stressors.
We instead need to allow our negative emotions, and not fear facing them.
But how can we increase our capacity to face negative emotions?
We need to hold onto the truth that joy is on the other side of facing our emotions. This understanding builds the courage to face difficult emotions.
In John 16:20, Jesus tells the disciples that they will weep and lament, but their sorrow will turn to joy. He doesn’t say they will have a sadness they could ignore. He says they will be so grieved that they will actually weep. In other words, Jesus is saying they will feel the fullness of their negative emotion.
But on the other side of that emotion is joy. Their deep sorrow will turn to joy.
The Bible is not about us running from our emotions. It’s about facing them, and finding the joy on the other side. If we don’t face them, there’s no joy to be had.
Consider Psalm 30:5 where it says joy comes in the morning. Weeping will be in the night, but joy comes after the weeping.
Or consider all the emotions the people in the book of Nehemiah go through (anger, sadness, fear, etc.) before Nehemiah tells them that the joy of the Lord is their strength (Nehemiah 8:10).
Or consider all the emotions David goes through in Psalm 22, just before the famous Psalm 23.
The Bible is clear: we are not meant to run from our pain, but face it, long enough to find the joy of God on the other side.
Today, consider what negative emotions you’re afraid to face. Instead of running from them, allow yourself to feel them. And pray to God that His joy meets you on the other side. As you do this more and more, you increase your capacity to face hard things, and thus, open yourself to more joy.
It’s true that joy comes in the morning. But it’s not without facing the sorrow of the night. Carry this truth with you today, and know that you are able to face hard things.