What to do with the Ugly

I was sitting across from a friend, interviewing him for a little video resource when he said something that caught me off-guard and immediately brought tears of hurt and shame to my eyes.

It was like being stung by a bee when you’re cutting flowers.


I was upset, but more than that, I was upset with myself for being upset. I finished the interview and got in my car with John, silently reflecting on why and where the emotion had come from.

The answer was embarrassing. It was pride, pure and simple.

As I asked my friend a question on camera, he excitedly shared something he learned recently from a cool hipster pastor in our area. It is a spiritual practice I have written about a lot, and church leaders have found helpful since the 1500’s. But here, publicly, it was being attributed to the stupid hipster pastor.

I thought, “What about ME??? What about MY words, MY influence?”

And I felt small and overlooked and inconsequential. And so dang angry that I felt that way!

Have you ever felt dinged for not being acknowledged or overlooked for credit or affirmation you’d like to receive (in your secret heart of hearts)?

What do we do with All Of The Feelings?

What do we do with the ugly?

There is a verse that I think we often whoosh by, that came to mind as I drove away with John.

James 5:16 Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. MSG

So I screwed up my courage (because truly I was so embarrassed that this mattered to me) and confessed to John what I was feeling.

It was so dang hard to be honest about this because I want to appear secure and confident and never petty. But there was this ugliness and when I confessed it, you know what? John wasn’t shocked, and he still loves me, and  the power of the ding, like infection, seemed to drain out of me.

I am in the spiritually challenged slow group when it comes to learning this stuff, but there are three practices I keep coming back to when ugly emotions threaten to derail me:

1. Ask “Where is this emotion coming from?”

  • Is there an unmet need I’m looking to have filled in all the wrong places?
  • Is there an unnamed wound that needs to be addressed? 

Usually, what I discover is that I’m living out of my “false self” – the part of us that is dependent on the world for validation instead of resting in our identity as a beloved, gifted child of God. Our “false self” can be knocked about by circumstances, but our “true self” is always secure.

2. Confess it all to God.

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


1 John 1:8,9 If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won’t let us down; He’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing.MSG

3. Confess it to a trusted friend who loves you, is for you and for your growth as a Jesus-follower.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst.

What about you? What have you learned in situations where emotion threatens to derail you?



  1. Laura, in this post as well as others I’ve noticed in the past, I see that sometimes your quotes are identical in my Bible while others are more in the vernacular.

    The one that prompts me to write is your reference to Ecclesiastes 4:12. “By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst.”

    Being new to the Bible, the above sentence is a lot easier for me to comprehend so becomes more meaningful than “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.”

    Is there a “vernacular” Bible you’d recommend I buy?


    • That’s a great question Jeanne! There is a range of Bible translations from a “word for word” translation like the New American Standard Bible (NASB) to the a thought for thought translation like the Message (MSG) which is at the other end of the spectrum, and allows much more leeway for the translator.

      We always want to get to the most accurate understanding of what the original authors meant, so a translation like the NASB is important to read when studying, but it’s also clumsier to our ears and has more convoluted sentence structure. This is why many choose to use the New International Version (NIV) for daily reading – because it is in the middle – between a strict word for word translation and a thought for thought. We call it a dynamic equivalent.

      However, for many who have read the Bible for years, reading verses they are very familiar with in a translation like the Message, can bring fresh understanding. This is why I will often use the Message if I don’t use the NIV for verses I site in posts.

      This site might help you further http://www.apbrown2.net/web/TranslationComparisonChart.htm.

      One resource I have really liked for a devotional that gets you into the Word is called Solo. It has one passage for every day of the year, starting in Genesis, with at least one passage from every book in the Bible, but it uses the Message translation so it is “fresh” and conversational.

      Again, I don’t recommend the Message for Bible study, but it’s a nice supplemental version. Hope this helps!

  2. Thanks for this message. I’ve certainly been stung by a green eyed monster of jealousy. I guess I’m always glad for the full spectrum of emotions given to us by God. It doesn’t take me long to see the ugly before I’m walking back to the Father with my head down and tail tucked between my legs…yep that would be humility.

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