Sadness, Depression, Anger, and the Devil

We are back. After the summer-end travels, the back to school flurry, and the long-expected funeral, we are back to starting our daily routines again. I now have the oldest four in school, and just to the two youngest at home.

Amidst the whirlwind of the past few weeks, there were lots of emotions passing through. Like the time I had a conversation with a loved one about some choices that needed to be made. This person did not want to try the suggestions I felt would really help them. I found myself slumping into depression over it. Afterward, I wondered why I was feeling depressed.

PROBLEM: I was feeling depressed.

I pondered on it, and finally thought to ask. So I followed that prompting, assuming the deepest emotion I was feeling was sadness. “Why am I feeling sad?” And do you know what the answer was? . . . “Because you are angry.”

That surprised me! But in a moment, I knew it was true. I knew that oftentimes, when I got angry, I would stifle the anger knowing I “wasn’t supposed to get mad,” and then shift to sadness, because sadness felt more acceptable. Getting angry is of the devil, right? Well, that’s what I used to think.

Anyway, once I realized I was actually feeling anger, I asked myself what I was angry about. How had my boundaries been violated? (Karla McLaren says anger is a message that your boundaries are being violated. Read more about that here.) After a moment, I realized I was feeling anger that my advice was not being taken. The boundaries of my good name and trustworthiness were not enough for someone to take my word. And because they didn’t take my word, I felt those boundaries violated.

Thank goodness I made these realizations! I quickly visualized giving back the invasion of my boundaries, putting it back in my friend’s arms. (Lovingly, of course. The choice was, ultimately, only going to affect their life. Not mine.)

After I gave it all back to my friend, I revisited my depression. It subsided and was gone. There was no sadness, no paralysis, no feelings of lowness or loss of energy. I was lifted.

SOLUTION: I realized I was actually feeling angry, so I discovered what that emotion was telling me–that I needed to re-establish my boundaries–and I acted on it.

I think it’s important to understand that it’s okay to be angry. We just have to be careful to not react or act in our anger.  Anger is not of the devil. The actions that we allow ourselves to make in the emotion on are what is of the devil. But not the emotion itself. It is good. It is a messenger. It is there to help keep us safe.

I hope to teach my kiddos this. And to remember it myself.

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