I sat down to write to you today, friends, and all I can think of to tap out on the keys is that I am so sad. There’s just no other way to put it, and it seems there’s no way to shake it. This week, it’s been one thing after another, and maybe it’s because I’m worn down and exhausted after being up with a teething toddler for more nights in a row than not, but with every new hit I just feel more sadness.
The news coming out of Ukraine makes me deeply, immensely, grievously sad.
Seeing racism alive and well makes me sad.
Waking up with a cold makes me sad.
I think a friend of mine is mad at me — sad.
One of my kids got their feelings hurt at school — sad.
Overwhelmed at the state of my messy house, my overflowing laundry pile, my never-ending task list, and when I think about all of it, I’m sad.
The disintegration of my volunteer group at church — sad.
Friends falling prey to misinformation and conspiracy theories — sad.
Scrolling (which becomes doomscrolling, really) in hopes of pictures of kids and pets, but instead seeing images of war and arguments in comment threads — sadness, in and through the posts and my heart.
Watching a beloved family member’s umpteenth hospitalization and knowing there is currently no diagnosis or cure for their ailment breaks my heart with sadness.
Realizing how long it’s been since life felt “normal,” and knowing it could be in a process of becoming a new kind of normal feels sad.
And I wonder, are you feeling it too? A deep sadness, grief, or pain in a situation, or just processing the world right now?
You’re not alone. I’m here, sitting with you.
And you know, it’s not all a downer, even though it is all sadness.
Hear me out.
When I’m stuck in a cycle of sadness, as I am right now, I am able to do a few things to continue slogging through it. (Caveat: my sadness is not clinical, but situational. If sadness, depression, and/or anxiety permeates your life and is a permanent part of you, please seek or continue with professional treatment. God works through medication as He does meditation, and therapy can be an answer to prayer.)
First, I wallow. Yep. I let myself feel the sad waves as they roll and crash over my soul. I cry. Sometimes I holler about it, whatever “it” is. I dig into my chocolate stash. I take long, hot showers and sob. And I listen to sad, old songs. I don’t stay here forever, but it’s okay to feel our feelings. And so I let it linger for a little while.
Next, I share. I talk to my husband. I voice message my sisters and best friends. I write in a journal. (Apparently, I tap it all out on a keyboard here to you! I invite others into the pain I’m sitting in, and I can trust that they will sit with me for a while. These are not people who are new to my heart and life; these are my true-blue, soul-deep partners. They know it’s not their job to fix the sad; it’s their job to sit beside me, to share the load.
Finally, I pay attention to my sadness. I get to the point of processing, and I dive in. What is my sadness telling me about my own heart? What is it telling me about God’s heart? What can I glean from feeling plain old sadness? How can I use my sadness to be a better friend, wife, sister? How can my sadness drive me to action? How can I help?
When I pay attention to the sadness, it’s much harder to ignore it and stay stuck in it. Paying attention, naming the feelings, and processing the pain can propel me to discovery and action. Jesus was a man of sadness-propelled action — sometimes with a little anger thrown in for good measure. Think of when He found sisters Mary and Martha weeping at the death of their brother Lazarus. The siblings were all friends of Jesus, and He wept at Lazarus’s death.
Then He raised Lazarus back to life — commanded him to get up, and Lazarus walked right out of that tomb, still wrapped in the grave cloths. It’s an incredible story of compassion, love, and Jesus’ sadness turned to action.
He wept. And then He got to work.
Friends, we know we can’t raise the dead. But sometimes because of our sadness, we can bring figurative dry bones back to life. We can turn our sadness into phone calls and emails, fighting for those who don’t have a seat at the table. We can turn our sadness into helpful donations of our time and our treasures. We can turn our sadness into delivering a meal or doing a load of laundry for a struggling friend. We can turn our sadness into caring conversations and caring for ourselves.
Our sadness can drive our actions. My church has a motto about doing just this: God’s work. Our hands.
May our sadness carry our hearts and hands into deeper, richer, caring work. May the pain of our sadness deepen our empathy. And with every tear shed in our sadness, may we learn more about the heart of God.Leave a Comment
Thank you for writing this. I am sad too, i will be fine. Some people tell me to count my blessings, some say i gotta choose joy, some tell me others are in worse situations (that adds, not lifts me from my sadness). It is encouraging, to hear from someone that it is ok to be sad for a while. I am not ungrateful for all that i have been blessed with, I am not despairing. I know God holds my future and the future of my kids too. But for now, I am tired, I am sad. Joy is still in there together with hope.
Mary M Castrovilla says
thank YOU for your honest comment. I hear you…
You can count your blessings AND still be sad. Without realizing it people tend to negate another’s sad feelings in the name of trying to help. But in reality all that is needed is a simple “I understand, what can I do to help”.
Ruth Mills says
Simply Amen. Thank you for your transparency & wisdom Anna. Blessings upon blessings!
Elizabeth (Betsy) Hall says
I totally agree!!! I would imagine all Christian mom do!!! Wait until your kids are grown! Then the pain can really begin—today is my youngest son’s Birthday. He and his wife live in Spain. I hadn’t heard from them in a while and I have been sick with chronic health problem that left me with no strength. I PayPaled him a gift and then this morning I texted him HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! I LOVE YOU WITH ALL MY HEART. I got back, I am going to New Hampshire for work–next off day is Monday. He claims to be an atheist now, although he was raised in a Bible believing and teaching church and made his profession of faith and I saw him live it out into his 20’s. He is 36. I just sat and cried. Then I heard the gentle whisper that i am so used to—I am working in him—How good is God. I still cried, but I know a higher work is going on. Thankfulness comes!!!!!
My heart goes out to you as I have a son in his 30s who is far from the Lord and has pushed us away as well. Praying for you in your heartache and for your son to return to his faith.
Hugs I see your pain. I understand when more than a physical ocean is between our children.
Beth Williams says
Prayers that God will change your son’s heart. Remember God is working in & through him to alter his ways. Asking God to open his eyes to see God’s & your love for him.
Betsy, I am right there with you. I am praying for your son, his wife, and your family. It hurts so much. Our 32 yo son wants nothing to do with us, and I fear that our 30 yo son is being pulled into a web of conspiracy theorists. I prayed Ephesians 3:14-19 over us all this morning.
I will believe with you that God is working in our children and in our families and remember that while there is breath, there is hope.
Sending hugs your way.
Lynne Niznik says
Thank you. I am here for you in my sadness. With your insights we will take part in the Lent that brings us to the ultimate Resurrection.
Thank you Anna for putting our sadness into words so many of us are presently experiencing. It helps to know we are not alone.
My friends and I have had recent conversations about our compounded feelings of sadness. It’s a relief, I think, to know how pervasive this is. Thank you for describing so well what many of us are feeling, helping us to understand we are not alone, and offering strategies to cope. I also am glad you mentioned that sometimes we really do need professional help, I have been there, too in my past.
Thank you for your transparency. I feel too many hold back what is really being felt. Your story helps others know that it’s ok to feel sadness.
I could identify with many things you shared that are making you sad, Anna. On a personal level, I’m currently identifying with “waking up with a cold”, “overwhelmed at the state of my messy house”, “disintegration…at church”. Thank you for sharing so vulnerably and for giving us steps to take (allowing ourselves to “wallow”, then share, then pay attention to our sadness. As you concluded, “may we learn more about the heart of God” “with every tear shed in our sadness.”
I love this, Anna! Yes, I’m feeling all of these feelings about many of these same things. I will take your advice: feel the sadness, examine the sadness, do good for others. Got it! Thank you for helping guide me through this.
Oops! I missed the “sharing part”. This I will try to do, too.
Tara Baxter says
Thank you for sharing! I am going through one of the sadness times of my life right now. My marriage is crumbling right before my eyes and I don’t think my husband wants to help me fix it.
I think you read my email… I couldn’t have said this any better. Thank you for sharing your heart.
Oooh, this is so relatable. The sadness is there! I weep, I moan and groan, I confide in a friend, and I pray! Thank you for letting me know I am not alone in my sadness. I have so much to do- caretaker of two. The workload piles up, concerns of doing the right thing, doing things efficiently, and respecting the roles and boundaries of loved ones who have lost there Indepence. Oh what a process!! Asking God to give me the grace, mercy, and kindness needed to meet these tasks. Thank you and keep me and my family lifted in prayer.
Typo- their independence, not there
Betty Skerbitz says
We are in ‘difficult to live’ times. Thank you for being honest. It helps the rest of us know we are in this together. And our feelings do matter. Jesus understands, He, too, felt sadness. And He took time away to be strengthened. His flesh was weak but His Spirit remained strong.
Paulette Lalljee says
As sad as your sadness feels, I’m inspired by it. It’s so good to name it. I hope you are healed in God’s love and goodness. I don’t even think your friend is mad at you. Peace be with you.
Brenda M. Russell says
It’s wonderful to be honest, it’s therapeutic to be open with others when one is hurting and God wants us to reach out in prayer for help. Prayer is my first line of defense when I am feeling out of balance, when I hear about sad news and when I am sad. No one can walk another person’s journey of sadness.
God gives us Christian Counselors, Bible Study, Leaders Who Live Christlike lives, Prayer Partners, Exercise Partners, Biblical Books to read and Faith to trust God.
I am usually the doctor but often I am the patient. We all need to be humble and admit that we need care, compassion, kindness, love, peace and forgiveness. It’s why our Lord and Savior teaches us to give what we need also.
There is no shame or condemnation in God’s plan for our Christian Journey.
God bless your steps.
If only! If only we knew ourselves better. If only we would stop for even a minute and listen. If only we would talk to God and share our hearts. If only!
I heard a pastor once say that he gave whatever he was feeling a certain amount of time (dependent on the severity of the situation) to dwell on that feeling and then he got to work. I think he was saying to give each situation it’s time to feel whatever it is sadness, pity party, anger, joy, etc. and then get back to God’s work. Believe me it’s not easy to do. I’ve tried. But you know funny thing about trying. The more you do it the better you become. That old saying “if at first you don’t succeed, try again.” And you keep trying (my words) Hang in there sisters. Jesus has our backs and fronts.
Thank you for putting into words how so many of us are feeling right now.
Thank you for your thoughts, I also am feeling so sad these days by what I am seeing happen to innocent good people.
God bless them and us also.
Sallye Jefferson says
I have experienced the same emotions as you, but have thought of the feelings as frustration — even irritation. Thanks for helping realize they might actually be emotions of sadness. My answers to the sadness have been the same as yours — the faithfulness and character of God, and the importance of spending time with Him in praise.
I agree, my sister, so much sadness but yes, we don’t stay there, we believe and we are saved. Sometimes it feels as if my heart is being squeezed and yes overwhelming but Holy Spirit is here with us and as we allow Him, He sees us through and we live life as we were meant to, to give glory to God!!
So, in spite of the ‘whatever’, we can rejoice and rejoice again!
Linda Schutte says
Good to know we are not alone in this confusing time! I too have been shedding my share of tears! Watching the heart rendering scenes on tv, the recent birthday do a beloved great niece who passed at the young age of 24, just nearing my 73 birthday and slowing down, not able, not able to get done what I want to do! Missing those who have already gone Home! Seldom hearing from children that don’t realize how much they are missed and loved! Oh yes, sadness can settle in quickly if we aren’t careful! But then, I walk out into a brand new day, the Lord blesses me with the song of a bird, a beautiful sun rise, life! When I walk out into the back yard, I hear His voice, telling me I am loved and His!
We can leave behind the cares of this world, if I remember each day, to call upon our Heavenly Father and remember,He is always just a breath away! Loving, protecting, and watching over us if we call upon Him and choose to obey! Our fears and anxiety will fall away!
Love to all!
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Anna thank you so much for what you wrote. So true all if. We have so much hurt in our hearts at what going on in our world today. It is so so sad. We don’t like to see Families in hurt or pain. Especially as you said about Ukraine. You see on the News Families greaving for loved ones that have died. Because of all that going on in Ukraine. Asking I say why why. Do theses people that cause this pain and hurt pain and saddens care. My answer is no. Or they not do it. It all sad. There are other things on the news that break my heart. In Afghanistan Mother’s having to sell their youngest kid for food to feed themselves and the rest of the family. They say the can’t be sad. That Mother. How could she not be sad when she conceived that child in her womb and gave birth it. When the child can walk the person that bought it takes it away. How could that Mother not be sad. If a girl they pay more. The child is put into an arranged marriage. That child is bound to scared taken away by a stranger. Sad all it. Things like this break my heart. Make me sad. Even Children I saw this on the News one day. I did right away go into prayer. Kids in certain parts of the world. Missing school in countries like Afghanistan. To walk the streets looking for work. To try get enough money to buy food to feed themselves. They shouldn’t have to do that as some days they get no work and have to do without. For all the money then get. They only get to buy a piece of bread. They have to share it with their brothers or sisters walking the streets to get work. When they should be a school getting an education. Getting one me a day in school. Should it only be rice and beans. It sad. When we have so much. We waste food. It breaks my heart. Plus in Ukraine people with kids fleeing their home land. To try and get a better life for themselves. Because of all going on their. They shouldn’t have leave their home land. We have to go into prayer for theses things. Hand all up to God. As all sad. We also have to be thankful. We don’t have to live like this. As we are a God’s Children no matter what age they are. Like the Children song I learnt at Sunday School. It goes. “Jesus Loves All The Children Of The World Red and Yellow Black and White.” We are do this same. Keep them in prayer. All very sad. To help if we can give to things like different charities that are trying to help like this and pray for the good work they do. As they are being the hands and feet of Jesus. Pray for them all. Show the Love of Jesus every where we go. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xx
There was a quote shared by John Piper that I love and remember often:
“Occasionally weep deeply over the life you hoped would be, Grieve the losses. Then wash your face. Trust God, and embrace the life you have.” This could apply to times of sadness as well, because so much of sadness is about loss. Thank you for your sharing because we have all been there.
I love this quote! Thank you for sharing.
Beth Williams says
So much has changed in our world these past few years. We’ve lived through a pandemic where many lost their lives, lockdowns, disunity, & general sickness. Now we are seeing Russia invade Ukraine & killing innocent people. It’s no wonder we get sad. God is working in & through all of this. He sees us & comes low to give us hugs & shower us with His love. We must pay attention to our sadness & own it. Make sure it doesn’t last to long. Like you said we should tell others about our heartaches. Then go & do something about it. Help someone out, pray for others, whatever you can. It will help life your spirits some. Prayers for all young moms out there. May God give you the rest you need to feel good again.
Thank you, it helps me to hear that others are trying to deal
with so much sadness too.
I struggle (have as long as I remember) with what others think and say about me as well as feeling “not good enough” I hate it! I’m working on (as I’ve continuously prayed) overcoming these awful feelings.
Shannon Evans says
Hi Anna, I loved this. So much of this resonated with me. Thanks for writing!