By Christy Watson
How do we handle our anger and feelings? Do we have a breakdown? Do we feel it’s hopeless? Do we strike out at others? Do we let those feelings drive and control us? Do we withdraw?
At one point in my life I would have said, “No,” to every question I just wrote. I’ve never really had a problem with anger or losing control in my adult life. I’ve let stuff pile up and slip into a little depression, but to become somebody else and have a distorted view, and think crazy thoughts, because of being hurt and then responding in anger and hurting others? Well, glory to God! I thought I was above all that! But I learned that I am not.
I realized that our feelings and emotions are real, whether justified or not. How do we get rid of them? In my case, no amount of prayer or Bible study made them go away. I felt like I was at my lowest and a spiritual warfare began to take place within me. Unfortunately, these feelings did take over. They had control; control of my sleep, eating, my body, my thoughts, my reactions. It was one of the most difficult times in my life! I can’t even explain all the anxiety. But guess what? Satan didn’t win the battle! I made many mistakes, striking out at people I dearly loved, withdrawing from life and lots of other junk, but God prevailed and brought me out! And I am stronger and wiser for it! I’m still learning from it!
This is some of what I have learned; do not bottle up your feelings and let them build up to an explosion point. Talk to people you trust and be 100% honest with them. Never stop praying, reading and quoting scripture, even if you feel like God is far from you. Remember His promises and remind yourself of His faithfulness. Know that even though it’s hard when you’re in the middle of it good will somehow come out of it. Believe that this goes deeper than surface issues. It’s actually a warfare between Satan and God inside you and although Satan may get the best of you during the trial, God will be victorious in the end. I also learned that my feelings do matter. Whereas for years I have told myself they don’t and I pushed them way down. Sometimes you have to go through a refining process, a fire actually, to remove a lot of junk, to see the real picture, to humble you, to make you compassionate, to make you appreciate people in your life, to cleanse your soul, to make you useful, to realize you’re just human and life can be confusing and very hard, to see that God never ever forsakes or leaves His children.
This is all still fresh in my mind. I pray I never have to learn from a trial like this again, but that is unlikely. I know people who suffer regularly from anxiety, depression and different cycles of emotional pain. I understand them now. Many times I’ve tried desperately to help them in various ways (mostly by preaching to them) but I now realize they just need to know you love and care deeply for them and more importantly that God does. They may need to be reminded and reassured of this regularly until they are somewhat released from it. It’s good to see the light when you’ve been in the darkness. It’s wonderful to sing and praise God for His goodness and love when you have been in depression valley. It’s reassuring to experience God’s faithfulness once again!
One thing I am hesitant to share is this: sometimes those who minister and pour their lives into others assume that God is pleased with them, but many times they are filling their lives with people instead of God. It’s almost as if they are giving and giving to people and there is little left or nothing left to give to God. If my focus is on people and helping them, then my focus is not on God. This stuff is hard for me to admit. I didn’t realize I had left my first love, not in the sense of going out in the world and turning my back on God, but in the sense that I made people my priority in the name of God. I was working hard for God many times without God. Those people served as a great distraction from some spiritual issues that needed to be addressed within me. I did get them addressed by the way. At my lowest I reached out for help and received counseling. I am so thankful I did.
If you need help, take that hard first step and get it. You’re worth it. We are here to walk with you on this journey!