Are Emotions Allowed in the Valley?

Photo Credit: Milada Vigerova

by Jennifer Grabianski, speaker, teacher, and life coach

I am living in the valley. Though I have enjoyed many victorious mountaintop experiences, right now I am laid low, grieving a painful loss, living with more questions than answers.

The first time I used the LTML Valley Experiences Map to process a difficult experience, one question in particular stood out to me: “How do I grieve in healthy ways?” As I reflected on this question, I became aware that I tend to avoid grief, and the emotions that accompany it. Instead, I prefer my security blanket of logic and head-smarts.

In fact, right now, I find myself suppressing feelings of sadness, anger, and hopelessness each time they bubble up. I try to counter those out-of-control feelings with the facts instead of seeking God and His promises. I become overwhelmed with guilt, so I hide from God. Eventually, I turn to Him once more, in a weak attempt at praise. On and on it goes, creating a crazy-making cycle.

Recently, I reviewed the Valley Experiences Map with a trusted counselor who encouraged me to read through the book of Lamentations where Jeremiah records his emotional response to the destruction of Jerusalem.

So one sunny morning, I took a deep breath and headed outside for some fresh air and new perspective. I opened the book of Lamentations on my phone’s Bible app and what I discovered completely surprised me. Jeremiah held nothing back as he described the suffering he witnessed and the torment he felt. His words were raw and honest, painting graphic pictures of God’s actions toward His people. He asked tough, sincere questions of God. He acknowledged his sin, remembering that God alone is righteous. He reaffirmed his hope in God. (It was as if Jeremiah had answered the very questions found on the Valley Map!)

Jeremiah’s response showed me that emotions and confusion are welcome and encouraged in the valleys of life. God knows how we feel, and He loves us through each authentic cry of our hearts. When I express my feelings to Him, I am brought both to tears and to my knees. And it is there, when I’m in a posture of full surrender, that God can begin His healing work in me.

 

Scripture:
“Rise during the night and cry out. Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord. Lift up your hands to Him in prayer.” Lamentations 2:19 (NLT)

Discussion Questions:

  • How do you respond to valleys in your life? Do you favor your head or your heart
  • Which parts of the Valley Experiences Map come easy to you, and which parts are more challenging?
  • Identify a struggle that you need to bring before the Lord in prayer. Practice crying out to Him as Jeremiah did in Lamentations.

Prayer:
Lord, thank you for loving me even when I feel like nothing makes sense. You know my heart, and you hear me when I cry out to you. Forgive me for the times I’ve tried to solve life’s challenges on my own. Help me to lean fully on you every day of my life.
Book Recommendations:

A Grief Observed and The Problem of Pain
by C.S. Lewis

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