Sadness, Madness, and Guilt Fatigue

Tim AllchinFor Those Seeking Hope4 Comments

Over the past few months in counseling and conversations, I’ve increasingly noticed a perplexing issue.

Many people aren’t quite sure what to think about the world around them, and many feel overwhelmed even trying to decide how they should be feeling and acting in response to all that has transpired over the past six months.

Should we be sad, mad, or feel guilty?  What is our role in stopping a pandemic gone viral, an election gone vile, and culture wars gone wild?  Should we be protesting more, distancing more, speaking up more, or saving more?  How does a wise person respond to the difficulties that seem to be pouring in like unrelenting waves?

Many of us know that the current course is not sustainable, but we also doubt our ability to do any good or to know how God might want us to respond.

In moments of uncertainty, it is critical to remember your priorities.  You can’t save the world, you only have one vote, and each of us only has 24 hours a day.  However, keeping in mind what is most important helps us navigate a world of uncertainty wisely.  We have to learn to avoid distractions if we are going to be effective in the days ahead.

Paul, says it profoundly in Philippians 3:12-16:

[12] Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. [13] Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, [14] I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. [15] Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. [16] Only let us hold true to what we have attained. (ESV)

First Priority: Your Faith

The most important choice you can make during this crazy season is to pursue God with your whole heart.  In a world that wants us to care more about issues around us, than the state of our own soul, we need to remember that we can do nothing of eternal consequence without “faith.”  In our world that seems so broken, our faith can make us whole.

It can feel selfish when the world seems to be burning around us to take time to worship and pursue our faith, but a strong faith gives you the courage to face the world with love and truth.  Don’t feel guilty about taking a break from changing the world to spend time with God, God’s word, and God’s people.  Rest is not weakness.

Second Priority: Your Family

As a counselor, I have the opportunity to talk with people about moments in life they often regret: perhaps an ugly argument, a lapse in judgment, a moral boundary crossed.  However, as painful as those situations are to recover, one of the greatest regrets I have found is from those who have allowed their family to fracture.

You can change your friends, church, or job, but you can’t change who God gave you as your family.  Don’t feel guilt about choosing to prioritize your family during this season of life.  Your family is a gift from God, even when it’s far from perfect.

Third Priority: Your Focus

How has God called you to make a difference with your life?  This season is full of distractions and fears about worst care scenarios.  We are told that we should care about all sorts of issues and get involved with many of them.  We can easily see the lives of extraordinary “achievers” and feel a sense of regret.  Instead, we can trust that God is content with the ordinary, day-by-day faithfulness He is calling us to.

You don’t need to be involved in every issue that pulls for your heart and attention, and you don’t need to feel guilty when you are choosing everyday faithful living.

Conclusion

It’s ok to feel mad or sad when you see the fallenness of a broken world around you.  Don’t curse the world or yourself.  Choose to be a person who presses on to pursue your faith, prioritize your family, and place your focus on the day that God has brought to you.

Saying yes to these priorities does mean saying no to other important things, but you don’t need to feel guilty. We can be certain that these priorities matter and are worth pursuing.

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4 Comments on “Sadness, Madness, and Guilt Fatigue”

  1. Thank you Tim for this post. It speaks to me from various angles.

    As a ministrty leader I have to prioritize time. I do care for people but I have to know when to rush in or gently walk out.
    I have come to realize more often than not, that rest is a gift from God. I so often abuse this gift. Over the past few months I have had reminders that God desires me to be a good steward of the body and sporit he has given me. I learn to allow God to guide me through acknowledging His skilful means of accomplishing the things I pray about, and the things He so graciously does without my effort.

    In these caotic times I think we all need to refocus on Who God is….that he is sovereign over all.

  2. Yes, I thank you for this confirmation! I have noticed that my best time with the Lord are interrupted with “You shoulds”…you should go give that extra money you’ve been wanting to give…what are you going to do about that fallen brother? And I think there is a pattern! Yes, I maybe should do those things, but right in the middle of a great time of fellowship with Jesus? Those times aren’t an everyday occurrence, even though I may be reading the Bible every day. So I’m getting it that I should prize those times and ignore other voices for a while.

    And even though lots of people may be questioning Biblical truth, I should press on…and when anxiety calls, just do the next thing…don’t go there. Thanks for encouraging us!

  3. I find great encouragement in your posts as well as agreeing with your position on what to focus on during this challenging time. People around me are asking how I can be so calm and peaceful with the convergence of disasters happening. It has been an awesome opportunity to share the Gospel and WHO it is that gives TRUE PEACE.

  4. Pingback: Where is Your Focus? | BiblicalCounselor.com

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