It’s scary when my feelings and my faith run in different directions.
My faith and feelings have gone in the same direction for most of my life. Guilt and shame have pulled them away from the Bible’s truth at times. Most of the time a good sermon or spiritual experience have brought my feelings back in line with my faith.
Going through Regeneration has thrown a little bit of a wrinkle into this trend. In storytelling terms, they call it a plot twist. I assumed things were going one way right up to the point they veered off in another direction.
Starting Regeneration, or Regen for short, felt great at first. It offered another stable source of Biblical truth every week. I also started to see development in my relationships with God.
Then we made it to the inventory step.
This is the step where you take a searching and fearless moral inventory of your life. You go through all the hurts, habits, and hangups in your life. Most people don’t see it as a fun exercise.
Going through inventory has taught me the power of emotions and feelings. I’ve learned how they can guide my thoughts and direct my actions without me realizing what’s happening. They even masquerade as logical thoughts or Biblical principles.
This started to become clear to me after a single conversation impacted my mood and attitude for almost two days. A friend of mine said something to me in passing and I concluded my life would be forever different. I’m not kidding.
This wasn’t a conflict or even an offensive comment. It was the result of powerful emotions wearing me down and making me more vulnerable. Those emotions put me in a state where small matters made a big difference in my heart.
Larger matters seemed like the end of the world.
This issue took on a greater significance because I’ve been spending so much of my emotional energy on my inventory. It’s taxing to dig up past events, process through them, and write them all down. When I’ve got less emotional energy, I’m more vulnerable to the powerful effect of feelings.
This is a little like working out. The first ten to fifteen reps of a workout can loosen you up or even energize you. The last ten reps can feel like they’re going to break you.
This doesn’t mean those last reps or doing my inventory isn’t worth it. According to some fitness experts, the last and hardest reps are the most worthwhile ones. I’ve found this to be true with the challenges I’ve faced during my time of inventory.
I’ve recently faced some tough challenges and learned some important lesson. One of these lessons is recognizing the power emotions can have over me and my decisions. This lesson has helped me handle the emotional rollercoasters of life.
Recently, I saw the movie ‘steve jobs’ and considered a career change for at least a week. The movie didn’t paint a flattering picture of Mr. Jobs or his personal life. I still caught myself thinking of ways I could be an entrepreneur or inventor for awhile.
There is nothing wrong with being either an entrepreneur or an inventor. There is something wrong with putting success before your family; which Jobs did. There is also something wrong with basing major life decisions off a movie.
It’s important to build a solid foundation in every part of life. The most solid foundation is God’s truth and the least solid is emotions or feelings. The latter will lead us in all kinds of directions.
If we don’t recognize their power, emotions will lead us to warp our priorities. They can make things like success seem much more important than our relationships. They can even make relationships seem like their not worth it at all.
Their damaging effects don’t end there either.
Many times our feelings and our faith want to take this view in different directions. Our faith pulls us towards seeing God as a loving Father and our feelings take us in all kinds of directions. Many can’t be described with words like ‘love’ or ‘compassion’.
It’s okay to have negative feelings about God. David expresses plenty of them in the Psalms. It’s not okay to rely on those feelings .
Investigating those feelings shows us their source and reveals their lack of reliability. Many of my feelings come from old disappointments, wounds, and heartbreaks. Those were all real events which caused real pain.
They’re only the first half of the story though.
God is going to right every wrong. While I might not see everything righted on this side of Heaven, I’m confident it will happen. He’s already started this great work in my life and heart.
Showing me the power of emotions and their ability to affect me is just the next step of His plan.
Have emotions ever guided a decision in your life? Did your decision seem logical or reasonable at the time? What can you do to guard yourself from emotions next time?
Image Copyright: hannah kby