Singer/songwriter John Fischer has a gift for stating the obvious in a simple but profound way. He did that again today in The Catch devotional when he said, "There are sometimes when there is nothing you can do about sadness except feel it."
I was raised by my parents to understand that you are not always going to feel good and that's OK. Life goes on even when you are not feeling your best and you just can't let that stop you. You just have to play the hand that you're dealt. I think what my parents were trying to teach me was primarily about physical feelings but this truth can also be applied to emotional feelings such as sadness or depression. Behavioral psychologist Ben Bissell wisely cautions however, that "all feelings are acceptable but all behaviors are not." It's OK to feel sadness but there are both appropriate and inappropriate ways to act on that emotion. Trying to drag as many people into your sadness as possible is probably not one of the appropriate ways to deal with it but neither is pretending the that the sadness is not there. As my wife is fond of saying, "Denial is not a river in Egypt."
Sometimes I think feeling sadness or depression is a lot like fasting. It's something we may need to experience but not necessarily something that we should wear proudly for everyone to see. There's nothing to be gained from dragging others into our sadness and in doing so we may very well miss what we are intended to learn in that season of our lives. Another bit of wisdom that I learned from my wife is, "Life is a series of lessons that we get to repeat until we learn them." Wise woman, that Julia. I'm not keen on the idea of having to take any of the sadness/depression lessons over again unnecessarily.
When someone asks me how I'm doing at a time when I'm sad or depressed, I usually answer, "I'm doing OK." That's the truth. Sadness or depression is not the end of the world . . . although it's not the sunniest spot in the garden, either! I've learned to be OK being in the shade for a season if it means that I can eventually return to the sunlight.
What about you? How do you deal with sadness? Are there times when all you can do is feel it?