Feelings Can Lie
I have realized that one of my greatest passions and greatest challenges is encouraging and equipping my clients to walk in truth despite how they may feel. I can admit my own battle in this. I have also experienced freedom when I appropriately deal with my feelings. The truth is God created us with a wide range of emotions. They enable us to connect with Him and others. They can be helpful indicators of what is going on in our hearts. Feelings are valuable and they matter. The issue is not whether our feelings matter. The issue is how do we not allow our feelings to consume us. How do we stop feelings from convincing us that if we feel it, it must be true. I love how John Bloom from Desiring God explains it. “God designed your emotions to be gauges, not guides. They are meant to report to you, not dictate you.”
Quick lesson…Emotions start as sensations in the body, feelings on the other hand are generated from our thoughts and how we interpret those emotions. Why does this even matter? Because sometimes we can’t control the thoughts we have or help how we feel, but we do have a choice of what we do with them. In my 48 years, I have walked through seasons of great joy and peace. I have also walked through great sadness, fear, loss, and uncertainty. Life is challenging and there are circumstances that are simply out of our control. They can induce fear, anxiety, depression, and sadness, which can greatly impact our mood, perspective, and reactions to others. Some of you even now may be walking through a season that is full of pain or uncertainty and you may feel like you’re in a desert. How do you deal with these deep emotions? You embrace them and realize emotional vulnerability is good and healthy. Sometimes Christians have a misconception that they shouldn’t be honest with God about their pain and doubt. God actually invites us over and over to cast our burdens, anxiety, fears, and cares to Him because He cares for us. Where does it say in scripture to pretend everything is ok and just keep it together? I haven’t seen it, but let me know if I’m mistaken. I say to my clients, “Have you wrestled with God about that?”
As a believer, I go to the Psalms often. We are able to see real people feeling the weight of pain and suffering and crying out to God. God knows our hearts and desires us to come to Him with even the raw and painful ones. David cries out in Psalm13.. How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me ? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
BUT then David says…But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me. David brings his feelings to God. He was distraught and desperate for God, but displayed trust in God.
So….the answer is not to disregard our emotions, but bring them before a present and powerful God that offers peace and hope to to walk in truth in the midst of hard circumstances.
*Many of our feelings are rooted in faulty core beliefs that we have about ourselves, others, and God. They can reveal where we have placed our identity and our value. I will tackle that in my next post:)
How do we put this into practice on a daily basis?
When we are tempted to listen to our thoughts and feelings, stop and look at God’s word and compare it to what you are telling yourself.
Lie: “I feel alone and so I am alone.”
Truth: Be strong and courageous. … Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”.Deuteronomy 31:6
Lie: “I feel that I am not worthy or valuable so I must not be worthy or valuable.”
Truth: For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. :Psalm 139:13-14
Lie: “I feel like God is not good because my circumstances don’t feel good.”
Truth: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
In a nutshell…We must identify our thoughts, be real about our emotions, lay them before God, and then choose to trust what God says and walk in it.
Written by Malisa Funderburk MA