Balancing Pain and Joy
by Alyssa Falkenstein
The world is in a tumultuous space, isn’t it? Not only do we have wars around the world looming over us, inflation, and scary news media trying to sway our hearts, but we have personal pain too.
The friend drama. The workplace scandal. The car accident. Insurance claims. Tight grocery budgets. The marriage battles, the school battles… you name it. It’s a lot to carry when we’re also trying to be present wives and moms juggling a business.
Seth Dahl once wrote that we get to set the atmosphere in our homes, we are the thermostat. We are the deciding factor in the spiritual and emotional temperatures of our homes, and get to be the example to our kids— showing them how to create healthy atmospheres.
What is the temperature of your home when you’re stressed? Does the atmosphere feel panicky, high stakes, or heavy? Do your kids feel your stress? Maybe they feel like they need to walk on eggshells cause Mom is on edge and might snap. (Ooof I am preaching to myself here.)
When we are the thermostat, we can create a safe and warm environment for our family… even when the stresses of the world weigh on our shoulders.
How can we balance pain and joy? While we are thermostats, this doesn’t mean we erase all pain or run from hardship. We must model for our kids how to walk through difficulty well.
Recently in the Christian Mompreneurs Facebook group (backlink: https://www.facebook.com/groups/248986232886216 ) we did a challenge together to read the Word before we played on our phones or opened social media.
I knew I wouldn’t be able to get up and have a dreamy set up every morning of my Bible and creamy coffee and Bible journaling supplies. So I chose a devotional in the YouVersion Bible app called “Joy Over Stress” that I could read on my phone. It was beautifully convicting and encouraging.
“One of the greatest obstacles to joy is our inability to sit with negative emotions. We try to escape them, ignore them, and numb them, but these actions only increase the strength of our stressors.”
We cannot run from pain. We must face it, head-on. Feel and process and walk through the pain, holding Truth in our hands, to meet the Lord’s supernatural joy and peace on the other side.
When we are equipped with His truth and peace, we can walk through the refining fires and come out stronger. Wrapped in His grace and love, operating out of joy and hope even in the trials. In a way that won’t make sense to the world.
I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy.”-John 16:20
Jesus was letting the disciples know the pain that would be coming, they would feel “the fullness of their negative emotions.” But after that deep pain comes wonderful joy.
Toxic positivity would tell you to just “be positive!” Grin and bear it, fake it till you make it, don’t dwell on it, and pretend everything is fine.
The issue with this is what we don’t feel, what we choose to bury, must come to the surface. It must be felt and worked through or it will explode out of us, covering everyone around us in the remnants.
The Bible never tells us to run from our emotions. So often we are reminded to face them… Psalm 30:5b for example tells us “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.”
- On the opposite side of toxic positivity, you’ll hear people telling you to sit with your feelings. Sit with them, hold space and process. This used to annoy me! How do I sit with my feelings?! How long? How do I know if I’ve processed enough?
What is the line between sitting with your feelings to heal and move through them, and sitting in them and staying there, growing bitter? That’s not Biblical either. At some point, we must take thoughts that consume us captive and give what is too heavy to the Lord to carry for us.
There can be balance here. Honoring the emotions that God designed your body to have is vital! We must feel them, but not make them our god either.
The Bible is full of examples of great pain and great joy; Nehemiah, David, Jesus Himself. As we face our negative emotions and work through them, together with the Lord, our capacity to face hardship grows.
When we can walk through hardship well we show our kids how they can too. Things we are just understanding or relearning as adults can be their foundation as they grow and meet the Lord.
“Joy comes in the morning” is a phrase we see everywhere; coffee cups, tee shirts. Hobby Lobby wall decor. But we can’t step into the fullness of that joy without the sorrow and anguish of the night. If we ignore the sadness and run from it, we are running with shackles on. We aren’t experiencing full freedom.
Walking through your pain, holding space for your grief or disappointment, enables you to be free from the grips of it. You can be the thermostat in your home, maintaining peace and joy and comfort from the bitter outside world and creating a safe place for your own heart too.
“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.
In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” – Ephesians 6:10-18
until next time, Alyssa
“Alyssa lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband and children. She is a Hobbit at heart who loves gardening, baking bread, and a good book. She writes faith based encouragement and is currently working on her first novel!”
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