Written by Emily Cook 

What if the way into healing isn’t to run from our darkness, but to enter into it, trusting that God is waiting in the midst of it and will lead us back into the light? 

How many times a day do we get asked how we are and we respond with “Okay!” or “Not bad,” or “Hanging in there!” And it’s not just with strangers, classmates or coworkers; this can be with people we trust and are close to. Choosing to express that we might not be “okay” is totally foreign to many of us. 

On the surface, our culture says we should be happy, content, and feel we have the ability to attain anything we strive for. But underneath the surface, we may just be the most discontented, anxious, and fearful generation ever. The words anxiety, shame, and depression are ones we’ve heard and know a little about, but the idea that those things could affect us just doesn’t correlate.

We’re all about numbing; for some of us that may be through alcohol or drugs, food, busyness, or binge-watching Netflix, but we all have something we turn to for numbing unwelcome emotions like sadness, anxiety, pain, or anger. 

Though this may seem like a good idea for a while, it inevitably catches up with us every time. See, the problem is that we can’t numb negative emotions without numbing the positive ones too.

What we sometimes fail to remember is that we are inherently spiritual beings. This means that everything we do and think and feel is related in some way to our desire to be imitators of God and be in relationship with Him. This also means that the best way to understand our own emotions, pain and heartache, is by walking into it–with Him.

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:3-24).

The amazing thing is that God isn’t afraid of our mess, our brokenness, or our darkness. In fact, He actually sent his son to die for us so that He could love us in that state of brokenness and bring us back to Himself. How incredible is that! 

The only thing that can give us the courage to walk into the darkness that is inside of us–not to numb, or run away, but to truly, deeply, feel–is by trusting that God is waiting for us there, and won’t leave us in that place. THAT is where we experience true life. Living in the light of God’s promises gives us the courage to feel pain deeply, and the freedom to experience joy fully. 

“You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me” (Psalm 139:5).