I’ve had conversations with several friends recently who’ve told me they’ve avoided using social media because, “it makes them feel bad.” That, if they’ve had a good day, and other people are having a bad day, then other people bring them down, and if they’ve had a bad day and other people are having a good day, they feel bad that they aren’t having a good day.
I’ve fallen victim to allowing social media to dictate how I feel, too, and I think it’s totally wise to avoid it if it has that much effect on our moods. But, I also think we are too preoccupied with “feeling bad” and how to “feel good.”
Our culture has taught us to avoid things that make us feel bad and focus on things that make us feel good – cars, clothes, shopping, food, mani/pedis, technology. We’ve taken this even further. Jobs. Relationships. Even churches. We consistently choose what makes us feel good and avoid what makes us feel bad.
But why do we feel bad? Do we feel bad because of false guilt? Do we feel bad when we really shouldn’t? Like, for example, if you feel bad because you don’t measure up to someone who has more than you (comparing yourself to others). Or, if you feel bad because you physically aren’t able to help someone you know needs help (guilting yourself for your own limitations). These examples aren’t healthy versions of “feeling bad.” These are examples of shame. Shame is feeling bad for something you shouldn’t feel bad for and have no control over. God doesn’t want you to feel bad for these kinds of reasons. Do you feel bad for something that shouldn’t cause you to feel this way?
Or do you feel bad because something is causing fear in you? Do you avoid topics that are uncomfortable or disheartening because you can’t handle feeling bad? Do you see bad things happen to good people, and you can’t imagine these things happening to you, so you avoid anything to do with them? Friends, God doesn’t want you to avoid things that are scary or depressing or hard because you’re afraid. God is Sovereign, and He wants you to transform your mind, not conform your mind. (Romans 12:2) When you give in to fear, you’re doing what everyone else in our society does. People all around you choose the things that make them feel good and bring them comfort. Are you avoiding the hard and scary things that God could use to change and refine you because they make you feel bad? Are you avoiding people in your life that you could bless because they make you feel bad?
Do you feel bad, but you shouldn’t, or do you feel bad because you should? There’s a good kind of “feeling bad.” This type of feeling bad is conviction, and God gives us our consciences so we can hear Him speaking to us about how to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 3:18). This may take a variety of different forms – from making a change in your own life to learning how to reach out to others. Is God trying to speak to your heart to move you to compassion or to take action, but you push Him away because you “feel bad”?
There are lots of reasons we shouldn’t “feel bad.” But, there are lots of reasons we should.
I know that, often times, in my own life, “feeling bad” has led to so much good.
Let’s stop being so scared of “feeling bad” and figure out why we feel bad, if we need to get rid of this feeling, or if we need to allow God to use this feeling to change us.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10