I hate feeling sad.
It’s the worst emotion of all the emotions, because it can’t really be satisfied, though you really, really want to satisfy it. With anger, you can punch a wall or scream or do something irrational and poof you’re on your way to satisfying your anger or at least calming down. With happiness, you want to stay happy, so there’s no need to search for a cure. With fear, you can usually be comforted in some way; you can take away the thing causing fear or enhance your ability to work past it.
But with sadness, you’re just sad. The only way to not be sad is to distract yourself until you forget that you’re sad. But then the sadness comes back in an even bigger wave, and it crashes down on your soul until all you can do is look at the ground as your world turns gray and tears you have no control over flow past your downturned mouth.
Then, you’re just sad.
I think I hate sadness the most because being sad means being in a very tender place of vulnerability. Crying is literally the worst: you can’t control yourself, your body just heaves and tears gush and snot accumulates and others have no idea how to help you and you don’t even know what would help and you can’t stop. You can’t speak, you can only make strange noises and sniffle. It sucks.
So I don’t like sadness at all, and I don’t think I’ve ever allowed myself to completely feel it. I’ve got a heart of stone and nothing gets to me, at least I don’t let people think it gets to me. Very few of my friends have ever seen me cry, and even then, I tell a joke to make myself laugh so I don’t have to be sad anymore. And let’s be honest, the person who finds Kayley Forshey the funniest, is Kayley Forshey. I’m really good at not allowing myself to feel that sadness so I just force it away.
I’m in a writing class this quarter and I had to write a lot of poetry. I hate poetry. I always feel like an idiot reading it because I almost always have no idea what it means. Poetry is just too poetic and I can’t keep up, let alone write it. But for the sake of the class, I figured the only way I was going to get a few poems out of my brain was to let myself feel intense emotions. And since I’m no where near falling in love, those emotions had to be intense anger, intense fear, intense happiness, or…
I’ll be honest, I tried the first three and they turned out to be disasters. The thing about intense anger, fear, and happiness is that there aren’t very many concrete ways to describe them without dipping into the clichés of red, hot, seething fury, teeth-clattering, bone-shattering, destabilizing fear, and giddy, ecstatic, out-of-control happiness.
So I decided to let myself feel the sadness.
It wasn’t hard to feel sadness. I’ve been sad for a long time now. I miss home. I’m not happy in Seattle. My family is going through a lot. My grandparents are sick. People I love desperately are spitting in God’s face. I feel trapped and either unable or unwilling to speak out. I have a lot of friendships that have ended on bad terms. I only have a few more months here in Seattle and then I have to say goodbye to people I love. I have a lot to feel sad about. And though the rain doesn’t really bother me, it sure helps when I let myself feel sad.
So one night I thought about all the what-if’s and should-have’s and I felt sad. I cried, which was hard since it was like 2am and my roommate was already sound asleep. I felt the weight of everything I’d suppressed for so long, I allowed myself to feel small and pained, pressing my wet face into my pillow and not making a sound. I cried until I ran out of tears and then I just sat in the cold, dark silence that often comes with intense sadness. Defeat and despair sat there with me, introducing themselves since we’d never actually met.
I think Christians are against sadness sometimes. There’s always that underlying pressure to be optimistic and hopeful because Jesus Christ is coming soon and we should be happy and ready for that! There’s that backwards belief that if you are sad, you aren’t praying enough, worshipping enough, reading your Bible enough. Rebuke the spirit of sadness, in Jesus’ name!
But sadness isn’t a spirit. Sadness is a human emotion that God gave each and everyone of us the capacity to feel. God feels sad, too. He feels grieved. He understands our humanness and I believe God was sitting right there with me that night, feeling my sadness with me, just so I didn’t feel it alone. Following God includes a lot of intense emotions, but we can’t suppress some of them because they aren’t as fun to feel. The stakes are too high to deny ourselves who we really are, and on the other hand, to end up leaving the faith because those emotions finally caught up to us and became too much at once.
Becoming a Christian doesn’t make you invincible: it gives you the power of the Holy Spirit to live fully human, the way God intended at creation before sin began slowly chipping away at what God originally called “good.”
Sadness is quite the burden and if we don’t allow ourselves to feel it, it builds and burns inside us, growing stronger and transforming into bitterness and hate. It’s okay to feel sadness. That’s what this whole season of Lent is about anyway, recognizing our inability to better ourselves, to come to the Father on our own. And lamenting that recognition.We need the healing power of Jesus, when He hung and bled on that cross, full of my sadness, my shame, my brokenness, and took it all on Himself, defeating death and redeeming our humanity.
I’m not saying we should stay sad. I am saying that there is a time to be sad and there is no shame in feeling sad. As a normally bubbly, loud, sarcastic person, I need these times to feel sadness. We cannot neglect part of our humanity. Christ has redeemed all of our humanity, and that includes all of our emotions and feelings.
This post might seem a little strange and dark, and I got some pretty kick-butt poems out of this process, but I was reminded of the point of Lent and I thought I’d describe the path I’m currently on.
Prayer is always and forever encouraged. ;)