Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.Matthew 5:4
When I’m Not Joyful
People often tell me that they love how happy and energetic I am. One priest that I knew in college would always say to me, “thank you for your joy.” I love to share my joy with everyone around me. If my contagious happiness can make someone smile and brighten up their day, then I know I’m sharing God’s light and pleasing him.
As much as I’d love to be happy all the time, I’m not. While I try to live up to my favorite Bible verse and the name of my blog, I’m not always radiant with joy. I have bad days. I let people and circumstances get the better of me. I dwell on things. I give in to sadness, anxiety, and fear. Whether its a little case of the blues, a bout of sadness, or a borderline depressive episode, I’ve had my fair share of sad days. While I strive to be a joy to those around me, I have reason to call myself a sad girl.
A “Healthy” Sad Girl
I’m obsessed with the musical Hamilton, and strangely, one of my favorite songs from it is “It’s Quiet Uptown.” The line that stands out to me every time is “The moments when you’re in so deep, it feels easier to just swim down.” I relate to this so much because whenever I’m sad, I tend to burrow myself deeper into my sadness instead of getting out. I lay in bed a lot. I sleep in late and take a lot of naps. I listen to my sad girl playlist to get in my feelings, and I stay there. It takes so much effort to do anything somewhat productive.
Don’t get me wrong, it is okay to be sad. If there’s anything I’ve learned from Inside Out, it’s that it’s normal and healthy to be sad, so we shouldn’t deny ourselves from feeling that important emotion. Sadness helps us to process our feelings and to connect with our family and friends. Because of this, I can justify getting in touch with my sad girl side. To an extent, it’s good to let myself be sad and just swim down. Although laying in bed and staying sad can be helpful and even comforting, I know it isn’t good to stay there.
A Not-So-Healthy Sad Girl
I used to be so bad about telling those around me how I felt. No matter the reason why I was sad, I would always make up an excuse to not talk to anyone about it. I needed to talk about how FOCUS turned me down when I applied to be a missionary, but I wanted to seem strong and I didn’t want anyone to feel bad for me. I needed to talk about how an ex boyfriend broke up with me seemingly because I was too Catholic for him, but I didn’t want anyone to know how deeply I was hurt. I would only be truly honest about my sadness with a few people in my life, and while it’s important to have close family and friends to confide in, I shouldn’t have been so quick to close myself off to everyone and anyone. I thought that bottling up my sadness was the way to cope with it. No one else would understand or want to be bothered by how I felt or what was bothering me, so why would I share it with them?
Stopping the Sadness
For a month leading up to my move to Washington DC, I lingered in sadness. I stayed in my bed and camped out on my couch fearing and almost resisting the move. I was paralyzed by the fear of living somewhere new, all by myself with people who I didn’t know and who didn’t know me. I put on a brave and excited face to almost everyone around me. Only a few people knew how terrified I was. I made the move anyway, knowing that the Lord wanted me to go to DC. On the day that I moved in, I did something that I don’t think I’ve ever done before.
My supervisor, Meghan came to visit the house, and when she asked me how I was doing, I told her “I’m actually a little sad.” Not pitying me, but caring for me, she offered to talk with me on the porch. I opened up to her about my sadness from moving and now being far away from everyone I loved. After a brief but meaningful conversation, I felt better. Opening up to Meghan didn’t fix my sadness, but it was the first step.
Authenticity for the Sake of Community
Sharing my feelings and letting my community get to know me-the real me-alleviated my sadness within my first few weeks in my new home. Little by little, I got to know everyone. I talked with them about the sadness I dealt with and I told them when I was genuinely having a good day. This honesty and vulnerability helped my community grow and allowed everyone to know the true me. I like to think that by sharing how I really felt, they felt comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings with me. As difficult as this was at first, I knew I had to because the Lord desires us to live and thrive in community, and my community deserves my authentic self. I was afraid of not finding my place in my new community, and I wouldn’t have found it if I hid and shut everyone out. When I let everyone see me as I was, the good and the sad, they embraced the authentic me and welcomed me into the community.
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How to be Sad
When you’re feeling sad, don’t feel bad about taking some time to yourself. Sleep in, listen to some music, journal, eat some cookies, or cry it out. It also helps me to remember that Jesus felt all emotions in his humanity. He got sad, he cried, he grieved, and he needed to be alone. When we’re sad, he understands, and he’s with us in our sadness. Jesus was in Meghan when I opened up to her. He blessed our conversation to show me that my sadness was valid, but I didn’t have to dwell in it any longer.
While it’s okay to want to be alone for a while, we don’t have to deal with our sadness by ourselves. When you’re sad, don’t be afraid to confide in those around you. They love you and they want to help. When it’s hard, just imagine that you’re talking to Jesus. Rest in him, find comfort in him, and eventually, he’ll turn your sadness into joy.
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