Yes, you have bad moods. You have hours or days when negative thoughts and angry emotions roll over your soul. You may have been disappointed, rejected, or let down. Perhaps the bad mood is a reaction to feeling overwhelmed, incapable, or pushed too far. A bad mood is a swirl of harmful emotions in search of a reason (“why am I feeling this way?”) and a purpose (“what will I do with these emotions?).
- You are irritable.
- Biting words fly out of your mouth.
- Your companions are defensiveness and hostility.
- A flash of fury shoots through your body.
- Disparaging thoughts inflame your mind.
- Ugly memoires return.
- Your judgment of others is totally biased.
- It feels like the dark cloud dogs you wherever you go.
The problem is all the worse because…
YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN!
You are a kind person. Your sins are forgiven. The Spirit of God dwells in you. You are not supposed to feel like this, are you? You are a victorious Child of God! You are supposed to conquer your bad moods, overcome your angry feelings, and set to flight your cruel thoughts. At least you have been told you should. Your spiritual condition worsens your bad mood with feelings of guilt and shame.
There is HELP and HOPE in God. When in a bad mood, the gracious and loving God of the Universe slips up behind you and says,
“I love you just as you are; and
together, we can do better than this.”
God will support you in overcoming your bad mood. To trust in God’s help to overcome bad moods calls for two spiritual exercises: 1-spiritual authenticity and 2-spiritual attention.
Spiritual Authenticity…. God says, “I love you just as you are.”
First, confess, “I’m in a bad mood.” Say it to God and say it to a person you trust. Don’t fight the bad mood; accept it. Your feelings are normal. Feelings come. The challenge is how you will deal with them. “In your anger, do not sin…” (Ephesians 4:26). Feelings of anger come, but you and God will decide where you go with your feelings.
Second, praise, “God loves me.” Say it more than once. In fact, breathe it in and breath it out; God LOVES me, GOD loves me, God loves ME. In the eye of your soul, turn your back on your dark mood and look into the light of God’s compassion. What a lovely promise, “For the Lord will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants” (Psalm 135:14).
Third, pray, “Lord, help me.” Prayer can serve as a much needed spiritual “time out” and a spiritual “reset.” YOU are NOT your bad mood. YOU ARE a child of God. A mood is just that, “A state or quality of feeling at a particular time.” Your mood does not change your relationship with God. However, your relationship with God can change your mood. “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:11).
Spiritual Attention… God promises, “Together, we can do better than this.”
First, pay attention to the source. Where did the bad mood come from? What “set you off”? Trace it back as best you can. What’s the origin of your negative feelings? Does your mood connect to other experiences in your past? Is your bad mood part of a pattern? Trust God to rescue you from the quicksand of the past, “Rescue me from the mire; do not let me sink” (Psalm 69:14).
Second, pay attention to best choices. Often a bad mood is like a train of thoughts rumbling (ruminating) through your mind again and again. You tell yourself you don’t have a choice, but you do. What options do you have before you? What can you do? Who can you turn to for help? What positive thoughts can you focus on? “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).
Third, pay attention to the lesson. There is something to learn from a bad mood. Don’t waste the energy and the irritation of getting past it without learning the lesson in it. “Teach me your way, Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors” (Psalms 27:11).
Copyright 2014 © Richard Leslie Parrott, Ph.D.