The Secret Benefits of Mood Swings

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OK, so you’d prefer to skip the sobbing in the car on your lunch break.

You know perfectly well that your feelings don’t reflect reality. You tell yourself, “Stop overreacting!” You start to wonder whether or not you may have gone crazy. You remember to say a prayer. You take a few slow, deep breaths. Still, the tears flow.

Sometimes, you come face-to-face with your human frailty. You wish, very much, that you could maintain a mature, professional persona. Instead, you cry constantly. How embarrassing. How humbling. Yes, you must admit to yourself, I really am this pathetic.

Once you move past the self-reproach, however, you start to consider that God might have a purpose for your emotional instability. Maybe He wants you to acknowledge your own weakness. Perhaps He has beautiful plans to fill your fragile spirit with Himself.

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In my experience, the benefits of mood swings include:

1. A softer spirit

At the movie theater with my mom, aunt, and grandma, I watch a remake of Little Women. Well-acted and brimming with fully-developed characters, the movie makes me cry at least a dozen separate times–like, actual tears streaming down my face. The old story has a fresh impact on me as I consider the nature of courage and selfless sacrifice.

Sitting on the couch with a scrapbook open in my lap, I read old letters from family members who have passed away. Tracing the pages with my fingertips, I internalize their words of advice more deeply. My unusually sensitive heart has become a more receptive vessel for messages of love, and I gladly soak in the legacy of so many godly people.

2. Human connection

A client comes to the studio to record a new episode of her Bible-based radio program. She tells me about a series of recent anxiety attacks, which inspired this week’s show topic. Sitting at the sound board, watching her audio levels, one of the verses hits home:

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. – Hebrews 4:15 (NIV)

I realize with a shock that Jesus felt sad sometimes, too. He looks at me, not with reproach, but with understanding. After the recording, I share my own experience with anxiety and thank the host for her timely message. We both walk away encouraged.

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3. Healthy perspective

My husband and I drive over an hour to meet my family for dinner. On the way there, we fight. I turn my face to the window to avoid making eye contact with him, nursing hurt feelings. We might as well go home. We couldn’t possibly enjoy our dinner now.

A couple of hours later, ordering burgers and laughing at my mom as her vocal volume increases with every sip of her margarita, I realize that my mood has shifted. The world doesn’t seem so hopeless after all. Maybe I shouldn’t have trusted my feelings so quickly.

It’s so easy to believe your emotions.

They seem undeniably real in the moment, don’t they? Extreme mood swings, however, reveal the indisputable truth: that your emotions often lie to you. Although encountering your human defects can be an uncomfortable experience, wouldn’t you rather face reality than continue to live under the false belief that you can trust your feelings?

God wants you to see yourself rightly: beloved, redeemed, and entirely dependent on Him. As you slowly begin to recognize the unreliable nature of your shifting moods, you become more and more likely to turn to Him in order to make sense of your circumstances instead of trusting in “your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

Your tears are never wasted, my friend. He knows what He’s doing.


The Reluctant Bride

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