Dear Brave Hearts,
Today we are going to talk about something that has plagued society. Everywhere we turn society encourages us to think positive thoughts and leave our troubles behind us. That is all a great idea, but how does it play out in real life when we do not take the time to acknowledge our suffering? The process of healing requires positivity – it requires gratitude for the Lord and for the things that He has provided us. However, true healing comes when we allow Him to draw us near, take us into the wilderness, and refine our souls. As Christians, it can be easy to quote scripture that confirms our need for positivity.
When was the last time that a friend expressed sorrow and your response was something along the lines of, “Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart…Psalm 27:14. God is with you, it’ll all be okay!!”
Take a second to think about how many times that has been your response or how many times you’ve been met with that response. How does it feel? For some of us it may be comforting, and if you are one of those people that’s amazing! But, I bet for the majority of us, that has left us feeling unsupported, misunderstood, and invalidated. While glorifying God is our main desire, we also need to acknowledge that there is more to supporting someone than a positive Bible verse. This is when positivity becomes toxic – when we ignore the innate suffering of our humanness and present positivity as a response to all forms of suffering. And for those of you who are still thinking what the heck is toxic positivity...how the fudge is positivity toxic?! Let’s dig in!
If you’re familiar with the Christian community, I’m sure you’re familiar with the sayings: God is with you, you are never alone, pray about it, and you just need to spend more time with God. Let’s start by getting clear on this – all of these things are true. God is absolutely always with you and spending time with Him will unquestionably bring you peace. However, believing that suffering is always a lack of prayer issue, a lack of faith issue, or a lack of surrender issue is not helpful nor is it always the case. Suffering can sometimes be those things, they can sometimes be the enemy, but what suffering always is, is a flesh issue. Without the original sin we wouldn’t be experiencing suffering, but because we are all sinful and fall short of the glory of God, anguish is a part of our experience here on earth. Drawing attention to the inevitable misery that comes along with being human gives us the space to not only heal our pain, but it gives us the ability to relate to our brothers and sisters in Christ. More importantly it gives us the will to glorify God continuously and to genuinely rejoice in our suffering. When we acknowledge our pain, it loses its power. The more we overcome, the more we taste the sweetness of God's love. The more of His sweetness we taste, the more faith we have that He will bring us through our trials time and time again. It’s a ripple effect that starts with making the choice to face instead of avoid.
As much as it hurts, the dirty, ugly, painful parts of life that come along with being a child of God are the ones that refine us the most, and it would be a disservice to our souls to leave them without acknowledgement. When we gloss over the negative parts of life, we (1) don’t offer ourselves the space to truly clear out the muck in our souls and (2) we communicate to others that if they’re not positive all of the time, then they’re doing something wrong. Both of these notions have to go out the window. The issue with positive quotes and positive scripture are not that they exist, but the fact that instead of putting on the armor of God and running toward our healing like the soldiers God made us to be, we convince ourselves to take on a mindset that isn’t humane and we repress our feelings. Imagine going through a heartbreak and repeatedly telling yourself, the man that God has for me is out there, this too shall pass, without ever touching on the reason your heart is truly breaking. This means that you would move forward without ever acknowledging the attachment issues or abandonment issues that are causing the pain to exist in the first place. Now let’s think about it this way – what happens in your next relationship if you don’t bring light to the pain from the former one? If those issues don’t come out then where do they go? They go nowhere, they stay in and torment us for far longer than necessary.
Maybe you’ve been there before, maybe you’ve lost a friendship or relationship and felt worthless, hopeless, inadequate, and lost. Maybe you tried to do it all yourself and keep your head above water by being positive. And maybe you’ve learned the hard way that the only way out is through. I want to repeat this, because I need to be very clear in the fact that I’m not bashing healthy positivity. BUT, and that’s a big B-U-T, if you want to experience healthy positivity you have to let go of toxic positivity, do the real work, and step into real obedience with God. So long as your inner world is out of alignment, your outer world will be, too. And no amount of positive thoughts can remove the thorn from your flesh that so desperately needs acknowledging so that it can be healed. Sometimes He takes the thorns from our flesh, and sometimes He hands us the tools to do it ourselves. Whichever way it goes for you, I pray that this helps you to recognize that it’s time to get real with yourselves about the areas in which you’re embracing toxic positivity. We are all made in God’s image, but if any of us were perfect then we would be God ourselves. Part of the Christian experience on earth is recognizing that we are all innately flawed, damaged, and suffering. So, next time you are having a rough time take a step back from your natural desire to get rid of the feelings that come up. Pause. Take a deep breath and allow yourself to sit in that discomfort. The realities of this world will cause a lot of upheaval not only in our external environments, but our internal environments as well, and the best thing you can do for yourself now is to let go of that toxic positivity, put on the full armor of God and run toward the things that you have been running away from for so long. No matter how spiritual you are, you’re still human, so don’t feel guilty for feeling jaded at times, just make sure that you don’t let it overpower the love that shines brightly from the Spirit that lives within you.
The Whole Wellness Team
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