Feelings are great.
I want to be a person who feels. When we stop feeling, we stop caring. And when we stop caring, it’s called depression.
I wish my feelings were only of the positive, uplifting variety. Joy, wonder, peace, inspiration, satisfaction, determination, insightfulness, creativity, contentment: these are the feelings I like. They are my favourite feelings. They are always welcome.
Of course there are the other feelings too. Anxiety, guilt, frustration, confusion, inferiority, jealousy, weariness, temptation (let’s not even go there…) These pesky feelings are less welcome. In fact, I’d quite like it if they never showed up at all. But they do.
The trouble with feelings is that they can be such fickle little things. They can be so elusive. Just when you think you know how you’re going to feel, your feelings decide to change – without even consulting you. And it’s no use wanting to feel a certain way. No matter how much I want to feel happy, I can’t make it happen. Have you ever gone to bed feeling happy, and woke up feeling sad? How does that happen? Those fickle feelings.
Feelings are always going to be hanging around. We need them, and more importantly, we need to learn from them. They can be great teachers if we take the time to understand them. I have found a few things helpful in learning to deal with the highs and lows of feelings:
Bring your feelings to God
No one understands feelings better than our Creator. If you’re feeling anxious, talk to God about it. Bring him your anxiety, and ask him to speak to you about it. When you are overcome by frustration, talk to God about the way you feel and ask him why. Often our feelings are caused by something that’s buried in our hearts, and we need God’s healing grace to deal with. Don’t only bring your positive feelings to God. Bring him your negative one’s too. It’s there that we experience his healing and grace.
Acknowledge your feelings, but don’t live by them.
Don’t let your feelings rule the roost. There’s the truth, and then there’s how you feel. The two don’t always align. Don’t sweat it. When you bring your feelings to God, they won’t necessarily change overnight. Just choose to walk in the truth and eventually your feelings will catch up. And it’s not only our low feelings that need this treatment. The same principle applies when it comes to our highest ‘high’ feelings as well. Many people have made impulsively foolish choices because they had a sudden burst of adrenaline, felt indestructible, quit their job, purchased a new car… and then wondered what on earth they just did. In the end, living by what is true produces a greater quality of life than living by the highs and lows of emotion.
Be glad that you feel something.
Emotions are a vital part of life. Without feelings we are not fully alive. A friend of mine was prescribed antidepressants and had to come off them, as he said he stopped feeling anything. Of course people often need help for genuine mental health problems and I would never recommend coming off any medication without talking to your Doctor. Some people have to battle through very difficult mental health problems, and need our love and support.
But I also think that we live in a society that heavily over-prescribes drugs to treat feelings. If somebody hurts you, it’s appropriate to feel something. The pain is your soul speaking – dealing with the anger, needing to forgive, crying out for love. If someone we care about dies, we ought not to just shrug our shoulders and whistle down the road. It’s appropriate to be deeply sad. And when our team wins the cup final, we should shout and cheer and hug complete strangers.
Over the course of our lives we are going to feel many things. Today, right now, you probably feel something. If all is well with your world, be glad and be grateful. If everything seems hopeless, reach out – to God – to others. Feelings come and go. They chop and change. They are part of life. Just don’t let them have the last word.