The dangerous question that has become the common therapist’s tag line: “So how do you feel about that?” It’s dangerous because feelings can lie. Instead I wish therapists would ask a different question, something like “So what does God say about that?” Because then we could actually get somewhere. I’d hate to think of where I would be right now if I allowed my feelings to be the primary source of all of my decision making. Learning to rise above our feelings and setting them aside long enough to seek God’s will and purpose for our lives is the great challenge of the Christian life. Show me a man or woman that has done great things for God and I will show you a man or woman that has learned not to live solely by their feelings. Feelings are fine – unless they are believing a lie. We need to learn the skill of separating truth from lies. Do you want to miss out on your God-given destiny? It’s easy- just follow your feelings all the time.
Here’s the thing with God: “He usually asks us to do things that don’t feel good at the time. His requests usually seem unreasonable, uncomfortable, and unrealistic; they usually require courage, vulnerability, risk, and all sorts of things that don’t feel good at first. You gotta have a little courage to follow this God of ours; He’s chock full of bright ideas for our lives that can feel completely life threatening to us – just ask Moses or Daniel. God asked one to cross an ocean on foot and the other to take a nap with lions. What God was calling them to do probably felt like eminent death to them. We serve the same God they did.
I’m a deep “feeler.” So dealing with my feelings has been an “extra special” task for me. Recently, I joined a missions organization called The Word Race and was asked by them to take the Myers-Briggs Personality Assessment. I have to admit, personality assessments have always rubbed me the wrong way. I understand they can be a valuable tool in figuring out one’s strengths, but here’s the thing – I don’t like labels. I didn’t want to told that I am ”XYZ.” I didn’t like feeling as if those letters were stamped on my forehead: “Meet Ruth; she’s XYZ so she can only do XYZ – next!” While I’m not a fan, I understand the test’s value, so I took it, and there it was:
There’s that F! For those of you unfamiliar with Myer-Briggs, take a wild guess what that F stands for. Yep, you guessed it: FEELINGS. So it’s official? I’m stuck with an extra dose of this emotional setback forever? So I did what I usually do during times of frustration: I gathered all the data and took it to God. I wish I could tell you that when I approach God, it’s this solemn, holy experience of quiet worship and hushed petitions. With this particular issue it was more like, “Dear Father in Heaven – are You serious with this stuff?!?!” I mean, really God, how am I to be all that You want me to be when YOU programmed me with this runaway train called FEELINGS?!? Sure, it works great when I’m “feeling” the right way, but guess what – I rarely “feel” the right way because You see, God, I don’t only have ENFP letters. You gave me another two letters in my chromosomes, remember? You know, XX – which makes me female, which – guess what? That gives me three more letters, which are – you guessed it – PMS! If I’m lucky God, I get about ten days of the month where I’m “feeling” normal! How am I supposed to thrive under those letter conditions?!?! Amen.” Surely with logic this solid God would come to His senses and realize that I had made a good and valid point.
I am eternally grateful that God does not respond to me based on my nature but on His, which is always loving, kind, wise, and affirming. He helped me to see some things during the weeks that followed that prayer.
He affirmed to me that I was correct in at least one thing; that yes, “feelings” can be a problem, but my chromosomes, hormones, and Myers-Briggs letters had little or nothing do with it. Everyone of us is facing the same battle on this front. There’s no question that feelings can alter your thinking, your clarity, and your faith. Feelings are what caused Elijah the prophet to pray down fire one minute, and the next minute run in fear from Jezebel. His “feelings” changed. Then there’s Jonah, who had a definite “negative feeling” about going to Ninevah and ended up inside of a whale. Or Eve, who probably had a ”happy feeling” about that fruit she was about to eat.
God will usually drop something into my spirit when I am involved in some mindless activity; this day, I was putting away the laundry, and I heard it.
“Ruth, there are some things you simply need to be CONVINCED of so that you no longer pay attention to your feelings. The next time you sense a sudden drop in how you’re feeling, ask yourself: “What lies am I believing right now?” Your feelings respond to your inner thoughts, and your thoughts are where the enemy WILL to lie to you. Find those lies, and spend time with Me until you are CONVINCED about what I have to say on the matter.”
Thank goodness for mindless activities that quiet my mind so my heart can hear! I took God’s advice (always a smart choice), and the next time my “feelings“ had a sudden drop, I stopped and asked myself: what lies am I believing right now? Friend, the answers came flooding to me:
a certain prayer I didn’t believe God would answer.…
believing I would flop in my next assignment….
believing that a certain relationship was on a steady decline….
I wrote down these issues and spent time with God until I gained God’s perspective. I’m not going to lie, sometimes I’ve had to bring the same issues to God over and over and over. But each time I did, He confirmed and affirmed me in ways that steadied that part of my soul where my feelings were wreaking havoc in response to lies. Scripture warns us not to be unaware of the Enemy’s devices. This life destroyer, also called the Father of Lies, will inject lies to you- ALL DAY LONG. He hopes that at least one of those lies will take root, causing your feelings to agree with it. Once that happens, you may find that your feelings begin to manipulate your thought process and you lose your peace.
“Convinced” is the word God gave me. It is a word full of resolution – it is a stand, a line drawn in the sand, your steady and firm position on a matter, making that matter resolved and safely committed to God’s permanent care, regardless of your feelings.
The next time you find your feelings suddenly plummeting, don’t just roll with it. Stop and ask yourself: What lies might I be believing right now? You may be surprised at what you’ll find if you quiet your mind and listen for the answer. Then take those lies to God. Spend time with Him until you are convinced about what He has to say. In doing so, you’ll be able to rise above your feelings and gain the peace you need to move forward with God’s plan for your life. Peace: that’s one feeling you can trust.
I’m pretty sure Proverbs 3:5 is more of a warning than an exhortation. Here’s the Good News Translation of the passage:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart. NEVER rely on what you think you know.
That scripture is good advice: Feelings can lie, so trust your God, not your feelings.
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