March 27, 2020

It’s Good to Talk

Cameron Tarrh

We are living in unprecedented and uncertain times. With the spread of COVID-19, many of us are left feeling unsure of what life will look like for the present and the future. With an invisible danger spreading throughout our communities, and with the real possibility of an economic recession, it is easy to feel worried, anxious, depressed, and even paralyzed.

During times like this, here is something to remember: It’s good to talk.

Talking will not change our circumstances usually. But, it’s good to talk to God and those we trust about what we feel. If we don’t talk about what we feel, we end up stuffing our emotions inside where they end up causing more hurt than healing. Sometimes I think we feel as though we have to be positive all the time and any doubt or lack of positivity means we have a lack of faith. The opposite is true – the more we try to ignore how we feel by trying to stuff it down with positivity, the more we try to take control into our own hands. When we open our hearts to God and don’t try to hide how we feel, we exercise faith that God can handle our emotions and that He already knows more about how we feel than we do. When we’re not being honest and when we believe the lie that God wants us to only be positive all the time, it can cause us to deteriorate on the inside which will end up hurting our faith.

This is not to say we shouldn’t try to grab hold of hope and cling to it. We should pray as Paul prayed in Ephesians that the eyes of our hearts would be opened so we would know personally and intimately the hope God has called us to. What I’m trying to say here is that there is a difference between grabbing hold of the hope we have in Christ vs. thinking we have to be positive all the time for God to be pleased with us.

If one has doubts or questions about this, all they need to do is turn to the Psalms and they will see the full range of emotions on display. The Book of Psalms was Israel’s prayer book. These poems and songs guided God’s people to know how to pray in good times and bad times; in dark times and in times of flourishing. In one of my favorite Psalms it says this:

Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.Psalm 62:8, NIV

When we pour out our hearts, it won’t change our circumstances, but it helps us to heal, exercise faith, and keep moving forward. When we don’t pour out our hearts, we become hardened and it is much more difficult to heal, exercise faith, and move forward.

Pouring our hearts can be difficult when we feel confused about what we feel. This is okay. God knows more about how we feel than we do. But it still helps if we can name what we feel and bring it before God and others. Sometimes I wonder if this is part of what it means to become like a child?

Children are taught to keep it simple when naming what they feel. We often need to go back and remember the same. If we feel scared, that may be all we need to say. If we feel mad, angry, confused, hurt, it could be that’s all we can say. When we can name what we feel and bring it before God and our brothers and sisters in Christ, we open our hearts to receive God’s comfort and mercy in time of need (Heb. 4:16). As we experience God’s comfort, we can then share that same comfort with others. If we try to hide from what we feel, we will not be able to experience God’s comfort as He desires us to. Remember Jesus’ words:

Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.Matthew 5:4, NIV

A man who was great at helping children name what they feel and knowing how to express what they feel in healthy ways was Mr. Rogers. Here is a poem he wrote that can help both us and our children remember the importance of talking honestly:

It’s Good to Talk

It’s good to talk
It’s good to say the things we feel
It’s good to talk.
We’re much more real without the lot.
It’s good to talk
It’s good to find someone to trust
It’s good to talk.
We know we must do more than balk.
People weren’t born to be silent
Our tongues make wonderful sounds.
Just try a few phrases for practice
You’ll see there are very few bounds.
Let’s see now: “I like you. I’m angry.
I’m happy. I’m sad.”
You see? That’s not bad.
It’s good, not bad.
It’s good to talk.
It’s good to say the things we mean.
It’s good to talk of all we’ve seen and heard and felt for
And wished and knelt for.
We need to talk more.
It’s good to talk.

From A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The Poetry of Mister Rogers, published by Quirk Books, Philadelphia, 2019, p.24.