Fight the Feelings!

I’m lazy. Yep, have got to start off just throwing it out there. It’s no real surprise to those who know me, it’s not one of the universes best kept secrets or anything like that. I just don’t like doing things all the time. Now don’t get my wrong, there are times when I have all the energy in the world and am ready to go on an all night adventure, or hit up sheetz at 1am with my friends for a late night snack. Now in those moments you couldn’t stop me with a freight train, when I want to go I GO. The issue is however, those moments are not all the time and lately I have found them few and far between.

Recently I find myself repeating the Phleg motto with the same enthusiasm as Spongebob did when Plankton won him in a poker game

“Nah I don’t really feeeeeeel like it”

If I was being honest with you I would say that 85% of the time I really don’t feel like doing much. Luckily this is a blog and I can choose to lie and say I only don’t feel like doing things 50% of the time. Except for the fact that I already told you it was realistically 85%, I could go back and erase it but like I said in the beginning I’m lazy.

Lately I have been thinking about our feelings. What they’re good for, and probably more importantly when we’re following Christ, what they aren’t good for. For example, if I can trust my feelings to guide my daily schedule then you can trust I will not get out of bed until 1pm, I will then lay on a couch for nine hours watching tv, and will then get food delivered to me. The point here being that our feelings are not always the best guide.

Jeremiah 17:9 says “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

Our hearts are messed up, its a true statement and yet we live in this culture that is always telling us to “Follow your heart” and what that looks like is following our feelings. If you feel like you have a shot to make it big in Hollywood you go, don’t let a silly little thing like a son to raise hold you back. Oh, you love that girl, well why didn’t you say so, of course you can leave your wife, it’d be more messed up not to leave. The path our heart takes us on leaves a trail of pain and destruction everywhere we go.

When I think of biblical feeling followers the first person that comes to mind is Moses, the man killed an Egyptian in a moment of anger and his life changed forever. Moses ran away and had to hide from his adoptive grandfather until the man died all because he followed his feelings. Now here’s the thing, Moses thought he was doing what was right, helping his fellow Israelite fight against the big bad slave driver. Moses had the right idea, he knew the slavery of his people was wrong, but he was doing things his own way, not the lords way.

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding

God wanted justice for his people as well, in fact he even told Abraham he would free his people 400 years before they even were enslaved. God had a plan, and what was amazing about that plan was that included using an 80 year old man who had already tried it and failed his way (Eventually I plan to write a blog on how God uses the underdogs, but that’s for another time).

So God speaks to Moses in the form of a burning bush, and gives him his big chance to march back into Egypt and free his people and what does Moses say?

“Nah I don’t really feeeeeeeeeeeeel like it”

More specifically, Moses thinks he cannot do it, he feels like he is not smart enough, strong enough, not a good enough speaker. Now the fact is that he’s right, here in this instance his feelings are spot on, he does not have the ability to do this.

You see our feelings do have their use, they tell us things, we feel sad when someone dies because we know its unnatural and goes against Gods original plan for us. We feel angry when we or someone we care about has some sort of right violated. We feel happy when we enjoy some of the amazing things God has graced us with. Feelings do have their place. Moses is feeling weak and powerless and scared, and if he had continued to follow these feelings then none of us would be where we are right now. Its a good thing Moses had feelings because they told him that he was not enough, and that means he needs someone else’s help.

2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Moses had his feelings and threw them at the lords feet and despite how he felt in his insecurity and weakness, he went forward and relied on the lords power.

So Moses didn’t follow his feelings, he followed the lord, he followed the knowledge and the reassurance that God would without a doubt, succeed in his mission.

Moses didn’t follow his feelings, he followed the truth.

The truth is that God is the creator of the universe and knows what is best for us. The truth is that God has a plan and has made that plan known for thousands of years. The truth is that, what we know of God always trumps what we are feeling in the moment.

But I know its not always that easy.

It can be so hard to focus on what we know when we so strongly are experiencing what we feel. It is something I battle very often. I feel like my friends don’t care for me, I feel alone and unloved, I feel like God isn’t there. In the moments I feel like that, it can be so hard to focus on what it true. Really really really hard…but…it gets easier.

The more I grow with Christ, meditate on his word, and above all the more I talk to him, the easier it is to live out what he calls me to do. Especially when I do these things when I don’t feel like it. When I feel unloved and alone I talk to God because despite how I feel, I know he’s there. I know he cares for me

1 Peter 5:7 “Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

See, told you. When we are willing to take our feelings and put them aside we can see what is true. The more we focus on what is true, the easier it is to not live in our feelings. Let me tell you, when we are able to start putting your feelings on the back burner, you experience such a beautiful freedom. You no longer feel like a slave to your emotions, you still feel these things, but you know that they do not take precedence over what is true.

Philippians 4:8-9 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

Paul starts with what is true for a reason, he knows the truth takes precedence over all else. Paul says in that Philippians verse that when we think about these things we get the “peace of God”, when we are following our feelings we do not get peace, we get confusion.

So what does it look like to follow the truth? When we follow the truth, it means we take action. What action are we called to take?

John 13:34 “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.”

We are following the truth when we live out this commandment, we go and love others. The best way to get outside of ourselves is by getting into the life of someone else, and when we do that is when we learn one of Gods little rewards for us. When we start going out and loving others, we stop feeling so bad, in fact we start to feel pretty great.

Feelings follow actions. I think God put that little cheat code in there for us and I thank him that he did. When we take the action of loving even when we don’t want to, our feelings often follow and we feel better because we were able to focus on someone else and give them love.

This isn’t going to happen overnight, its not going to happen every time we’re upset. We will experience times when we just won’t be able to fight off the feelings and we sit and need someone to listen to us for a bit, and that’s okay when that happens, but in those moments we need to be able to see what are our feelings and what is the truth.

Just to wrap up here, I really encourage people reading this to think how we can encourage our people to live in the truth and not just follow our feelings all the time. I have seen some of my friends really grow in this area over the last few months and it has been so amazing to see them talk about their feelings but still be able to say they know what is true and they want to focus on that.

So in conclusion:

  1. Feelings: Great indicators, terrible guides
  2. Be free from the chains of our feelings

John 8:32 “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”