It happened again. It felt like I was losing my mind when in reality I wasn’t. This time I wasn’t dealing with my emotions very well. Instead of dealing with how I was feeling in a healthy way, I let day after day, and this time week after week go by without addressing how I felt. It felt honestly like I was close to snapping. When I get like this, there are several strategies I have to fight against the eventual snap, and in this article, I’d like to share them with you. And to be honest the reason I can write this article is not that I have all this figured, but instead, these tools in my toolbelt have stopped me from breaking.
Godly friends are means of grace to God’s people. If you don’t have any godly friends, then you need to seek some out at your local church. Whether it’s in your small group, age group, men’s ministry, or Bible study you need to have godly Christian men if you are a man or godly Christian women if you are a lady to speak into your life. These are trusted friends who you can open up to who you know won’t share what you’ve said to others. They will listen. Also, these men or women should be men or women of godly character that demonstrate a growing abiding relationship with Jesus.
If you are on the receiving end of a friend coming to share what’s going on with them, please consider the following. First, as they are talking ask the Lord to help you see them through the eyes of Jesus.
Secondly, pray for them as they share. Sometimes the hardest things to share are our deepest struggles and fears. The other person may be afraid of how you view them after they share their struggles with you. Please reassure them that you are for them and there to care, listen and love them.
Third, when they are done talking, please thank them for sharing what they did with you as this shows that you care for them.
Lastly, after this, ask some clarifying questions about what they said if you need. It is also helpful to make a clarifying statement about what you heard after they are done talking. Doing so, helps the other person know that you’ve listened before you dispense with any biblical or practical advice that you feel you need to share with them.
Now we are back to you the person struggling with frustration. On a typical day, I get asked a lot, “How are you? And most of the time depending on who it is I’ll say something to the effect of, “I’m good or great” even if I’m not all that great. If a good or close friend asks me that and I feel up to it or I’m having a not so good day, I’ll tell them I’m not good at all. Then I’ll tell them why and try to be as succinct as I can. As you share with your trusted friend, please be open and honest with them. They likely already know that something is going on with you although they might not know the specifics. As you share, please do so to the best of your ability and realize if people need to ask you clarifying questions, they do so because they care. Please acknowledge what godly people say to you.
Pray About the Feedback and Take It to the Word
You aren’t unilaterally accepting someone’s feedback by acknowledging that they made some helpful points for you to consider. Now you need to pray about what they said. The Lord uses close friendship in our lives to help correct and encourage us. And part of this is you taking what you’ve heard from your friend or friends and taking it to the Lord. Now is the time to talk to the Lord (if you haven’t already) about your struggle(s) and what you’ve heard from others. Now is also the time to take your cares, frustrations, burdens, and so on to the Lord the One who already knows and cares about them.
When I’m in this process what I like to do is take a heavy dose of the Gospel and apply it to myself. I’ll do this by starting with the problem I’m having. Since this article is dealing with frustration, I’ll begin to talk about how Jesus took upon Himself all my sin. What I deserve I’ll tell myself is not grace but the full white-hot fury of the Lord for my sin. Instead of that God gives me grace and mercy because of Christ. And on and on I’ll go until my affections begin to unthaw.
Recently I had a situation where one friend encouraged me greatly, and another close friend rebuked me. Both were needed. I needed the rebuke, but I also needed the encouragement. Both helped to realign my perspective on a situation I was dealing with. And the same is true for you. You need to take biblical truth and pray about the issues with the Word. You need to take the truth of Scripture and preach it to yourself until your affections are stirred again. And then you need to cast yourself again on the Lord for His sovereign care, mercy, and grace.
Let the Other Person Know How They Helped You
As I’ve done this now for a few years, I’ve found it particularly helpful after I’ve prayed and thought biblically about what’s going on in a variety of situations to let the person who listened and cared enough know specifically how their counsel helped me. Since this person will likely be on my cell phone, I text them a paragraph about how what they said helped me. This helps them know that you are thinking about what they said to you and how you were helped. It also lets them know you are processing and implementing the counsel they gave.
Continue to Seek Accountability
Letting the other person know what you’ve thought and how you are processing it also helps them to hold you accountable. Some situations require more accountability than others. Your level of accountability will also likely depend on your knowledge of the Bible, the Gospel, and your spiritual maturity, and so on. But every Christian whether they are seasoned or a new believer need accountability. We all need people to speak the truth in love into our lives.
Each one of us has issues. After all, we have still have indwelling sin. When we cover our sin, we will not have the peace of God. The Lord did not hard wire us with emotions to stuff them down. Stuffing down our emotions is not healthy and has consequences of its own. The Lord has saved and is sanctifying His people, and in this process, He calls us to come before the throne of His grace. It’s there that we know the God of mercy and communion with the God of grace.
Godly friends are great and a big help. At the end of the day though what you need most is time with you and the Lord. You need the Lord to open your eyes to your sin and struggles and to repent and cast yourself wholly upon the perfect, spotless righteousness of Christ alone.
I don’t know today what issues you are facing today. I also don’t know whether you are having problems at your job, in your marriage and so on. One thing I do know is you need to look to Christ alone for He alone is enough for you. He desires for you to trust Him and for you to stop relying on yourself. He also desires for you to stop shutting down and isolating yourself and start opening up to Him and wholly submitting to Him.
When I was in my early twenties, I met regularly with a pastor. I was involved in a campus ministry at the time, and this local church pastor was meeting with me since I led the campus ministry. I would talk for forty minutes about the ministry and then the last twenty about what was going on with me. I always tried during these meetings to talk about myself and my issues as little as possible. To be honest, at this time in my life, I was a mess. He would say something to the effect of, and I remember, we spend 40 minutes talking about ministry and the last bit about you. His statement has stuck with me today now fifteen years later. What he was saying is what I’m saying in this article- you need to stop holding back, you need to start opening up to others and look to and daily trust in Christ.
You and I have a great need of Christ and a great Christ for our need. And it’s ultimately Christ who wants you to deal with your frustration in ways that honor Him. I’m praying for you who struggle with dealing inappropriately with your frustration that you’ll begin to learn strategies for fighting your frustration with the Word of God, with godly friends, with others in the local church all for the glory of God and the spread of the Gospel.
Dave Jenkins is happily married to Sarah Jenkins. He is a writer, editor, and speaker living in beautiful Southern Oregon. Dave is a lover of Christ, His people, the Church, and sound theology. He serves as the Executive Director of Servants of Grace Ministries, the Executive Editor of Theology for Life Magazine, the Host and Producer of Equipping You in Grace Podcast, and is a contributor to and producer of Contending for the Word. He is the author of The Word Explored: The Problem of Biblical Illiteracy and What To Do About It (House to House, 2021) and The Word Matters: Defending Biblical Authority Against the Spirit of the Age (G3 Press, 2022). You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, or read his newsletter. Dave loves to spend time with his wife, going to movies, eating at a nice restaurant, or going out for a round of golf with a good friend. He is also a voracious reader, in particular of Reformed theology, and the Puritans. You will often find him when he’s not busy with ministry reading a pile of the latest books from a wide variety of Christian publishers. Dave received his M.A.R. and M.Div through Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.