You don't have to be happy.
Anger, fear, resentment, sadness. These are not negative emotions. They are emotions. Anguish, heartache, suspicion. These are not bad feelings. They’re feelings.
Happiness, playfulness and optimism all feel good, and so we sometimes think this is the mental state we’re 'supposed' to have. If we’re not happy, we must be doing something wrong. But that’s a faulty standard.
It’s not good or bad for us to feel good or bad. We feel how we feel, and that’s simply our reality.
When a trauma occurs, fear and anger and gloom are good and right. When a gift is received or a triumph achieved, joy and celebration are in order.
We speak of painful and difficult seasons of life as ‘dark times’. But darkness isn’t bad. It suggests danger and cultivates worry, but dark times also come with resources and opportunities. Darkness helps us to retreat, rest, and prepare for what’s next. When our sight is diminished, our listening is enhanced. Darkness allows different kinds of illumination than daylight.
In the book of Genesis, God promises Abraham that, despite being childless, he’ll become the father of a great people. God directs Abraham’s gaze to the night sky, and tells him to count the stars to know the number of his descendants. Sometimes hope is born in the dark.
God does not expect us to be happy all the time, or to pretend that all is good when all is not good. God doesn’t need us to cheer up when we feel troubled. But God does create a new day to follow each one that passes, and promises love and provision to us, whether we’re mourning or rejoicing.
It’s not always possible or fitting for us to feel good. But it is possible and fitting for us to trust.
The Table is a community of transformation:
from greed toward generosity
from violence toward peacemaking
from isolation toward neighborliness
from fear toward faith