Deconstructed Faith,  Inner healing work,  Relationships

We have permission to FEEL.

permission-to-feelI had A DAY. Like, one of those days where EVERYTHING IN FREAKING THE UNIVERSE THAT COULD GO WRONG, DOES.


It sucked.

It was a day where my heart ached so deep, that I didn’t know if I could bear the weight of it. A day where old wounds mixed with new ones, served on a plate full of insecurity and self-doubt. A day when everything inside of me screamed to crawl inward (with a tub of ice cream) and not come out again – like ever.

Yet, the older I get, the more I learn to embrace the idea to expect that life will be hard. But, it will (and can be) equally full of joy. 

There is this belief that says, I’m a Christian so I’m supposed to suffer. I’m supposed to experience trials and persecution (a dramatic use of the word there, but you get the gist). It also says, but because I’m a Christian I’m supposed to feel joy in the middle of the trials. This is God’s plan for me.

I used to believe this.

I even embraced it.

But, two powerful little lies are intertwined in this belief:

  1. If you’re a Christian, suffering should be pretty continual
  2. If you’re a Christian, the primary purpose of joy is to carry you through the suffering.



My issues with those two beliefs…

First, if you view God willing suffering as a part of the Christian life, you will look at God as one of the culprits of your misery. And that is a terrible way to view God, let alone enable you to trust him to be good.

God doesn’t will pain and suffering. It just isn’t in his character. Father God – the most loving, kind, adoring, gift-giving, safest presence in the universe – is only here to give life and give it to the fullest.

But what about the verses that say I have to pick up my cross and share in Christ’s suffering??

Jesus carried a cross once during his life on earth: once. It was awful. Brutal. But, it was part of his mission; something he knew he needed to do and was firmly committed to.

Friends, there may be a time when you experience pain and suffering for the sake of your faith. But, Jesus didn’t bear his cross on a daily basis. He did it once. And, I also venture to say, he didn’t appear to be joyful during that event.

Moving onto the whole joy-in-the-middle-of-suffering-idea.

If you believe having a smile plastered on your face during heartbreak is what makes you a strong Christian, you have just removed your permission to feel.

(SWEET BABY JESUS this is one area that Christians sincerely could improve on. Did I just say that out loud?? OOPS.)


EMOTION is one of the most powerful tools God gave to mankind.

He designed us with all the feels.


My sweet brother and sister friends, hear me on this: sadness isn’t from satan. Neither is anger.

Both are important. They equip your mind and body to process pain and move towards healing, in a healthy way.

On my terrible day, I pressed into the feels.


I let myself feel sad. Really, really sad. I soaked up every ounce of it. I allowed myself to press into the anger too. I felt it to my core. It shook me. Rattled me. And, left me feeling a whole lotta fear.

Yep. That’s a fun one. (Can I just say, what’s up with that?? Like, why the heck is fear always what creeps in after a long crying sad session?)


But, I’m not digging into that topic here…maybe that will be my next blog. BUT FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS SACRED, I HATE FEAR. SERIOUSLY. LET IT DIE ALREADY.

I think fear comes in because of our natural drive to self-protect.

We are hard-wired to survive.

And survival comes from being safe and protected.

When we experience intense feelings of sadness and anger, self-protection kicks in which inevitably comes with fear. Fear of experiencing that amount of pain again, fear of feeling….it all comes laced with self-protection.

But, I’m learning to push that fear aside, and press into the feels…

I remember on that day, sitting with God and through tears asking him, Why did you take this from me?? WHY are you doing this to me??

In the most gentle loving way, I heard that tender voice that I know so well,  Anna I’m not a taker. I’m a giver. I’m giving you good gifts…even in the middle of this.

My heart quieted. Because even in the middle of a terribly trying day, I was reminded of the gifts that God was clearly giving to me.

And, THIS is where joy steps in. THE REAL AWESOME JOY.

Joy is not meant to just appear as a relief for sadness, equipping you to somehow manage to survive.

No, JOY can come through amazing blessings.

beautiful people.

wonderful food.


a good friend.

silliness with your kids.

– all because God is speaking to you through them.

Ministering little nuggets of joy to your soul.

When I took an honest look at the good gifts God was giving in the middle of my heartache, my whole being swelled with joy. Loads and loads of it.

And just like I allowed myself to press into the feelings of sadness and anger, I gave myself permission to press into all the feelings of joy.

I sat in it.


I allowed my heart to open, to smile, to grin and be moved. I held onto that joy for dear life. And you know what often accompanies joy?

The most powerful thing on earth: hope.

Hope is a game changer. Hope is what propels you out of a pit of isolation and pushes you back into the world around you. A good, beautiful world that needs you in it.

Hope is what keeps your heart open, your feet moving, and bridges the conversation gap between you and God. Hope is it.

So, what if we allowed ourselves to feel life – really feel it?

Every heartache, every joy, sorrow, tear, smile and belly laugh? What if we didn’t hide in shame or fear – but instead we embraced every emotion and strived to gain everything we could from it?

I believe this is where the richest, most beautiful parts of life are experienced; where the most authentic version of ourselves can be known.

My friends, we will all feel the weight of sadness and pain in this life. It’s just part of it. But, we all have the opportunity to feel just as much joy. If we’re brave enough to look for it.



Author. Blogger. Speaker. Momma to 4.


  • Keith

    Anna, thanks for bearing your feelings. I like to keep things simple and harken back to what I call the overarching theme Jesus taught us. It is so relevant it appears in other religious texts – treat others like you want to be treated. To me this dwarfs the many other teachings therein. That is why He called it the Golden Rule.

    We are human and God gave us this wonderful brain. Per the teachings of Solomon, we honor Him when we use it. That brain lets us feel joy when we are such and pain when we need to feel such. When we lose a loved one, we hear many platitudes like he or she is in a better place. Yes, but it still hurts and I miss that person. So, it is more than OK to feel badly.

    As an old fart, I have learned that if we follow that Golden Rule and just be the best version of ourselves we can, we are way ahead of the game and we honor Him. It is more than OK to hurt.

    Thanks for the thought provoking post, Keith

  • insanitybytes22

    Amen! Jesus Himself had feelings, He wept, He got angry, and He was a sin free man. He also collects our tears in a bottle, so even our grief has worth and value to him. I also like how He is our rock, an anchor for our souls,so even in the midst of a good emotional storm, He is with us.

  • Yanara

    Thank you for putting to words what has been rolling around in my brain the last few weeks. Feeling the feels, inviting them (the feels) to pull up a chair and get to know them and ask them what can I learn from you today?
    Joy in the midst of it all can totally be the blessings, and amen Sista to talking about what those blessings are… They can be many things, for me they are the easiest to find yet easiest to miss things like the warmth of the sun on your face, a random smile from a stranger, a txt from a friend. God is in all of those blessings and booyah for that!!
    Thanks so much for being the beautiful you He created you to be! Keep beeing real, it looks good on you!

  • Jessica Oswald

    All the yest to this post dear sister. I have anxiety so sometimes I feel all the feels at one time. And let me tell you, it is the most overwhelming thing. But the more I dig into my faith, the more it allows me to press into God when I feel all the feels. And it is an amazing thing.

    Hugs to you!

    On Tue, Dec 13, 2016 at 10:42 AM, just a jesus follower wrote:

    > Anna McCarthy posted: “I had A DAY. Like, one of those days where > EVERYTHING IN FREAKING THE UNIVERSE THAT COULD GO WRONG, DOES. Yeah. It > sucked. It was a day where my heart ached so deep, that I didn’t know if I > could bear the weight of it. A day where old wounds mixed with” >

  • Shattered in Him

    Love this one. I have recently been pondering this very thing; why do we have to pretend when things are not okay?

    As someone who has wrestled with PTSD, depression, and anxiety…I have felt I have had to pretend I was not as affected as I was for the sake of everyone else. I feel as if I have had to learn all over again the difference between normal emotions and the mindsets that become such strongholds they pull me away from Him.

    The more I have pressed into Him and allowed Him to pull me out of the pit, I have realized that my emotions are actually not “who I am” – I am not my sadness, I am not my anger, I am not my shame. Those things have been normal responses to some seriously awful things, but they are not my identity. I don’t have to be afraid of my feelings anymore, controlled by them, and I better understand they were designed by God for a reason. It has opened me up to His joy after too many seasons of being closed off behind my walls and stuck in all of those feelings, not knowing what to do with them. We get to take them to Him and He draws near to us when we do. I love God. 🙂

    Thank you for this today!

  • Betty

    Is bearing your cross, suffering for the sake of Christ by sharing the gospel and being persecuted for it? OR can it be other things, too…a serious illness, loss of a loved one, or serious financial difficulty, etc. As a believer?

    • Derin

      The weight/burden of a cross weighs one down. So, I’d like to think one’s cross can connote anything that weighs you down. Be it loss, financial burden, emotional trauma, being misunderstood, or suffering for the sake of Christ…

  • Bruce

    Thanks for this wonderful post! Over the years I have come to understand that fear is misplaced faith and suffering is my refusal to accept God’s world and love.

  • Derin

    This!! Thanks!! As always been a struggle for me. Coping, and remaining joyful, and oh so full of faith, during a trial. Talk about the extra pressure it piles! Thank you Anna, for reminding me, I don’t have to prove anything to God. Thank you for reminding me, that he is kind., even when it feels like my world is crumbling all around me. He is kind., which makes him ever so willing to help, and save, and help.


    So so “good”! Don’t know where to begin, but you’ve been on my heart. In the night, I experienced some extreme physical pain as the pain block in my shoulder wore off. It brought what’s been on my heart regarding youback to the surface. I have been praying for you as I can “feel” the pain uou are experiencing. Don’t know what’s heavy on your heart, but I sense a “heaviness” I’m laid up for awhile with my shoulder surgery recovery, but would welcome you to stop by this week if you are in Stilwell and have time. I am hoping my pain subsides within short order but am trying to embrace it for its long term outcome. Hugs, Royalyn …Not typing well with my right thumb


  • rebekah

    Ohh I so relate to this…if I was a writer I would have written similar about this week…embracing fear, taking a risk, feeling the pain and experiencing the most incredible joy and hope in amongst the sadness and scariness 🙂

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: