Sometimes I wake up sad and angry for no reason.
This morning was a case in point. I went to bed generally content. I’d spent a profitable evening watching a Spider Man cartoon with my wife and eldest son. I’d slept well. I don’t even remember the 3am pee. But when I woke up I didn’t want to get up. I was sad and angry.
I say sad and angry because I think that emotionally when I feel low I assume that this is other people’s fault. Sometimes I do sad mingled with self-pity. But more often I do sad mingled with self-righteousness. Which translates into sad and angry.
It’s not that there are any real reasons to be sad and angry. I know that because the feelings usually come before I can find someone to pin them on. I feel therefore I blame! I also know they’re irrational because it’s now 9am and I’m not sad and angry any more! And nothing has changed in the circumstances of my life.
The speed of my mood change also tells me that I’m not clinically depressed. I say that not because I am ashamed of the possibility of being depressed, but rather because I don’t want to trivialise the deep, debilitating darkness which swamps the genuinely depressed. I’m just a bit of a depressive sort of person.
The funny thing is that as a Christian I shouldn’t be surprised by my emotions malfunctioning. They are after all just the product of one of the major organs of my body, the brain (which I read yesterday consumes 20% of my energy!) The Bible teaches that the whole of creation, of which my brain is a part,…
“…was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it…” (Romans 8:20)
God has broken all that he made just enough for us to realise that something is seriously wrong in the relationship between creator and creation. That’s why I’m “…in bondage to decay…” (Romans 8:21). With everything else: I get older, I wear out, I begin to function less well (the 3am pee!). For many of us there are things that are broken from even before birth. Life long disabilities. Particular mental and emotional struggles that we are prone to. So, just as I’m not surprised that my body aches more, that my sons are now stronger than me and that my heart has decided to beat to slightly irregular rhythm again, I shouldn’t be surprised that some days I wake up sad and angry for no reason.
The question is what will I do with those feelings? Indulge them? Or speak truth into them. This morning, by a miracle of God’s grace, I went for speak truth into them. So…
I got up. This wasn’t really optional.
I went and forced myself to pray and read the Bible. I started by being honest with God about how I was feeling and then thanking him for his great saving love in Jesus. Finally I asked him to help me feel the reality of his love, presence and promises more.
Especially precious in my reading this morning was Psalm 34. Read it.
But here’s a few verses in case you’re too busy/can’t be bothered:
4 “I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.”
8 “Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”
18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
I then tried not to kill anyone. Well I fought my emotions and tried to be nice to my wife (almost succeeded) and my small children (managed to help them get their shoes on without expressing total exasperation).
Finally, because we are whole people of body, mind and spirit, I went for a run. I believe in endorphins. These are something in your head released by exercise that supposedly help you feel less stressed. It doesn’t matter if they work or not, because I believe very strongly they do!
I’m not saying that above are a fail safe way to improve your emotions. They don’t even work for me some of the time. But they did this morning…