Feelings have power, we all know that but where does that power come from?
We recently had an issue with our cats. I was careless and our young, small kitty slipped out the door when I wasn’t looking. Then, as I was looking for her, one of the others bolted out the door as well. So, in a matter of 10 minutes, I managed to lose half the feline population of our house. To say that my youngest son was not pleased with me or thrilled with the prospect of losing his cat, would be an understatement! Cue the worry and anxiety and lack of sleep for me. I didn’t pray so much as I laid in bed and begged God mindlessly (and faithlessly!) to take care of them and to bring them home. They were both located the next morning and were completely unconcerned and unimpressed by my lack of sleep due to concern for their well-being.
As I looked back on the situation, I realized the real problem is not that I love my kitties and want them to be safe. The real problem is that I didn’t trust God enough to take care of the situation. So my feelings were simply a symptom of the lie I was believing – that God didn’t care enough about me and my family to protect the things that are important to us or to provide the care and comfort Josh would need in the event that our cats were never found.
I began to ponder on how many times we vilify our feelings. Feelings are not bad, they are not evil, they are not shameful, they are a symptom of something. If we are happy (which we all know is not the same thing as joy!), it may be a symptom of believing we are loved because our husband or kids cleaned the kitchen for us, washed our car, bought us flowers, or maybe we are happy because we found a good parking spot, scored a deal on a new pair of shoes (yes, please!!), or our favorite song came on the radio. The feeling of happiness is simply a response to what we have experienced or what we are believing.
What about those “other” feelings, the ones we deem “bad?” What if you are irritable or grouchy because you came home and the house was a mess and your teenager and husband are piled up on the couch playing video games in the middle of it all? You walk in and the only response you get from them is to ask when dinner will be ready. What will you feel a thing? If you’re anything like me, you’re a bit more than irritated, you’re down-right angry, and, if I’m honest, under the anger I’m hurt, and then comes depression.
Anger, depression, and hurt, are all emotions that we would normally put in the “bad” category, the I-shouldn’t-feel-this-if-I’m-a-good-Christian category. While some could make an argument that these feelings would be justified in this scenario and I agree, why not look a little deeper? What if these feelings are symptoms of my believing the lie that I am not loved and even more than that, that I’m not lovable, or that I have to do everything and no one will ever help me, or that it’s up to me to shoulder the weight of keeping everything together? Then my feelings become symptoms of believing those lies. Do you see what I mean? The feelings I may be experiencing are not inherently “wrong.” They simply are what they are. The “wrongness” of it all shows up in the lies that I may be believing that are prompting the feelings.
Feelings, in and of themselves, are not wrong, they are not evil or sinful or shameful. They simply are. It is what we do with them that lends them the power. It is a favorite ploy of the enemy of our souls to keep us focused on our feelings and blinded to what is deeper underneath. This allows him to continue to hide under our feelings and feed us the lie that we are somehow bad because our feelings are “bad.” When we see our feelings for what they are – simply feelings and symptoms of something deeper, we rob the enemy of his ability to use our feelings like strings on a puppet and we no longer dance to his tune.
Feelings are part and parcel of being. How many times in scripture are we urged to simply be? It comes in the form of words like, abide in me, rest in me, remain in me and while we are abiding and resting and remaining, we are also feeling. When we take those feelings to Jesus, He helps us sort through them, figure out if they are based on truth or a lie, and process them properly.
In psychology, there are two trains of thought on the subject of emotions and beliefs/thoughts. The first one is that our feelings inform our thoughts/feelings, and the second is that our thoughts/beliefs create our feelings. I believe it can go either way at any given point and, in the end, does it really matter? If we are renewing our minds through the Word and taking our feelings to Him for help in processing them, we’ve got all our bases covered.
My challenge to you this week, my dear readers, is to stop being mean to your emotions and just let them be! Whether they are the prom queen or the aesthetically challenged wallflower hiding in the corner, they both have the right to be at the party! So take them out on the dance floor and give them a whirl with the Lord. You will find tremendous freedom in simply being and feeling and dancing!
Until next time, I’ll be here being and feeling, abiding, resting, remaining, and chasing errant kitties. I have no idea how something so small and furry can move so quickly!
As always, I’m
Soaked in His blessings,