How To Be Sad

sadGlen asked if I was depressed, but I don’t think so. Depression is darker, emptier. I think I’m just sad.

I have a very low sad threshold. When I’m watching a film and it looks like the bad thing will happen, I leave or press stop. I’d like this to stop too. But I’m not sure how to turn it off.

In the past I’d stop eating. I’d go running or go to bed.  I’d work.  I’d write lists. I’d keep busy.  I’d shop or drink or sort or fix.

I’m not doing those things.   I can feel the sadness.  And it’s heavy.

One thing they don’t tell you when you’re getting better, is what you do when you get there. How you live and feel things and don’t run.

I’ve spent a lot of time running. And now that I’ve stopped, the silence is very loud.

I’m not sure what this verse means or how you do it, but it was written for days like this:

Let the one who walks in the dark,
who has no light,
trust in the name of the Lord
and rely on their God.  (Isaiah 50:10)

Sometimes, you’re not meant to press ‘stop’, or escape. Because fleeing doesn’t make the problem go away: it’s part of it. Sometimes you have to feel the thing and sit with it. Maybe that’s when you’re living, instead of just running.

7 thoughts on “How To Be Sad

  1. Recently, I was talking to some friends about a new chorus which spoke of us ‘soaring on eagle’s wings’ above the problems, and we were noting that the scriptural context for this image was somewhat different (speaking of our waiting upon the Lord to renew us). It generated a conversation about how God takes His people through the trials, being with them in the fire and the flood, so yes, Christians will have to walk in some very dark places (having been a widower for almost 10 years, I know what that means). There’s also another verse that relates to this: “I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places, that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name” (Isaiah 45:3). The pain, sadness or sorrow of such times is indeed very real, but there is a value in such experience. Often, it can be hard to see and understand, especially as it encompasses us, but God can bring us through to the next ‘scene’ in our story. May such wealth become ours amidst the ‘ache’ above words, in the one who put all aside to regain what He so truly loved. Thanks for sharing this, Emma.

  2. Sometimes I just want to be distracted too…but there is so much relief after my tears are set free. They want to escape but I want to keep them inside, to hide all the “bad” feelings and pretend that I am ok. But I am not. Then I realize only God can satisfy and fill my heart with the gift of the Holy Spirit.

  3. Thank you for writing this. I was feeling pretty desperate yesterday after something quite devastating took place. When it got really late I started thinking that it would be better to just die. I talked to myself, tried to stay calm and then realised my laptop was on standby and I opened it – I’d been reading your blog in the afternoon. Those few lines from Isaiah helped a lot.

  4. “In the past I’d stop eating. I’d go running or go to bed. I’d work. I’d write lists. I’d keep busy. I’d shop or drink or sort or fix.”

    Looking for more reference/inspiration to write my Our Daily Bread article led me to this (I was browsing the whole ‘childlessness’ tag, I think), & these words caught my eye, although for a different reason.

    Because I recently applied for a teaching position in special education at the secondary level, the interview was just over. They’ll be getting back to me soon – by this month, cos next month’s the new term. As much as I’ll be thankful for God’s grace in giving me the position if I get it, .. I’m actually .. scared (& broadcasting it on the interwebs behind a pseudonym, smart – not. I could have conveyed this otherwise & not on this post, but it felt appropriate, because after all, the quote in the post struck a chord ..!)

    Because that means a new environment, new colleagues. Socializing. Which is horrible and terrible and scary. Which means social anxiety. So I’ll probably put off talking to people, which in turn means I’ll have No Friends. Which means I have to eat lunch alone. Which makes me self conscious, because I’ll risk other colleagues realising that I am The Loner Without Friends who Eats Alone.

    So what do I do? Simple – running away from scared, means I stop eating at work. Because it will be the only way I escape being The Loner Who Eats Alone at work. (Impeccable logic, I know. I win at life, not)

    Except the last time it happened (when I first started mainstream teaching several years ago), .. I found myself often too fogged over to think properly. I’d come home & lie that I ate in school, but I’d give myself away because I was so hungry (& gastric hurt so bad!) when I came home, I’d always end up rummaging the kitchen to make toast. Or something.

    & I think on hindsight the only reason I didn’t develop any sort of full-fledged eating disorder and/or residual gastric trouble, is solely by God’s grace ..

    I’m scared. & I don’t know which is scarier – the disappointment of not getting something I’ve taken the chance to try out for, or getting it & the resulting fear/anxiety/personal inadequacy towards this new community of people (both students/staff) I’ll be meeting. Which then makes the temptation of negative coping very Real. I do have safety nets like church community & my psych appts in place and things, but … well, how much can they do with this stubborn (if only insecure and scared) soul?

    Prayers appreciated xx

  5. Hi Dee

    Well done on the interview; whatever the outcome. I can understand you feeling nervous, but remember none of us can look ahead without being overwhelmed, (Jesus tells us to ask for daily bread, not monthly – and in my case, minute by minute bread:-) You’re not The Loner, and if God gives you this job He’ll prepare the staff room and people to help you. God can be trusted with now and tomorrow and He understands our panic too. So, breathe. Pray. Keep talking to friends. And as you pray, know that God has got it all in hand – and you. We are all stubborn and scared and insecure – and that’s why Jesus is so brilliant and that’s why He came for us. xx

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