Be full of joy in the Lord…but vent it out first

Can I be real for just a second?

This morning I woke up the WRONG side of the bed. Like, my alarm clock woke me up in the middle of a stressful dream at the exact moment my dream-self was bursting into tears. I rolled over in bed, still feeling mentally exhausted from the 4 PM to 12 AM shift I worked yesterday. I hadn’t even had any human interaction yet, but I was already feeling super irritated. And when I went to pour myself a bowl of cereal, my dog thought it would be a good time to start shredding up a napkin she found on the floor.

Yeah, I was over today before it even really started.

I told myself I was being ridiculous. I had absolutely no reason to be starting my day off in such a negative mood. I tried to “make” it leave. “Whatever this is,” I said out loud authoritatively, “you need to get outta here in the name of Jesus, because I have nothing to be feeling this irritated about.”

But the more I tried to spiritually force my feelings away, the closer I felt I was getting to my emotional breaking point. I kept hearing Jesus’s quiet voice repeat in my mind, “Come let it out, Sara.” So after dropping my dirty cereal bowl in the kitchen sink, I went to my bedroom and shut the door behind me.

And I let the floodgates of my pent-up heart open wide.

I talked swiftly and furiously into my empty bedroom air about everything that came to mind. A few clients that ran me a bit ragged at work the night before. My decision to work part time, live at home, and focus on growing my blog. Why I felt so mentally exhausted. How relationships in my life have changed. I found myself surprised at what came pouring out of me that I had no idea I felt so passionately about under the surface.

It’s like the contents of my soul had been building up until they nearly overflowed, ready to burst out.

Sometimes, Christians like to tell each other that it’s wrong, even sinful, to feel anything but full of joy all the time. When someone says they’re struggling and having a hard day, we sometimes throw back “Rejoice in the Lord” or “Count your blessings” like a slap to the wrist. Rather than seizing the opportunity to listen with empathy, we make it seem like negative feelings are Satan himself and we must choose to turn them off like a light switch.

Let me tell you, there was no turning off my feelings like a light switch today and suddenly possessing a joyful attitude.

Instead, because I chose to face my emotions and dump out the backlog of things that had built up inside, a river of thankfulness was released in its wake. After I let out all the things causing me to feel anxiety, irritation, and anger, I was able to let Jesus replace those things with gratitude for the life I have—including many of the things that I’d just vented had caused me frustration!

The moral of my story: don’t stuff your emotions. And just because you’re a Christian doesn’t mean you’ve signed away your right to feel negative emotions either. Feel angry, frustrated, hurt, let down, etc.! But it’s what you choose to do with those emotions and how you handle them that Jesus has something to say to you about. Don’t hold on to them and let them take root. Don’t let them seep into your relationships, your work, or other areas of your life and start to cause bitterness and division.

Instead, get alone with God. Let those feelings out. And in letting them out and letting them go, you make space in your soul for thankfulness and joy to come in and fill you. And I think that is what the Bible means when it says to be thankful in all circumstances, and be joyful always.

Do the hard work required to let out the bad air, and you’ll cultivate the space for the Holy Spirit to produce His fruit in you—including a joyful heart.

Leave a Reply