“You hurt my feelings.”
“God feels so far away.”
Feelings play a large role in our lives. They can be responsible for everything from who we marry to whether we do the dishes or not before we go to bed. According to Hollywood, the way to be happy is to “follow your heart.” Does that really work?
I have always been an emotional girl. I feel pain deeply. When others cry, I cry too, often even if I don’t know them. While being emotional isn’t necessarily a bad thing, feelings CAN get you into trouble…especially if you choose to allow them to control your life.
In sharp contrast to Hollywood’s advice, the Bible says this about our heart: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”Jeremiah 17:9. Rather harsh, huh?
As “pretty” as following your heart may SOUND, the harsh reality is this:
Following your heart will often lead you straight to sin.
How many adulterous relationships started because someone “followed their
heart”? Wonder how many people’s lives have been ruined because someone just “felt like” they should share a certain piece of information (aka gossip) with someone else? How many of us let opportunity after opportunity pass by to influence others’ lives because we “just don’t feel like” doing what we should
do, however big or small, to make an impact? This about this for just a moment before reading ahead: How many of your choices are made based on biblical truths, and how many are made simply on how you FEEL?
I’ll say it again because it is THAT important:
How many of your choices are made based on biblical truths,
and how many are made simply based on how you FEEL?
Maybe you’re thinking, “Well, I just can’t help it. I can’t control how I feel.”
I’d like to share a truth with that has been very profound in my life. You CAN change your emotions. Not instantly, but over time.
What? Are you serious?
By changing your thought life.
You see, our thoughts lead to our emotions, and our emotions strongly influence our behavior.
Here’s an example: Your husband comes home from work late and didn’t call to let you know he would be late. Dinner is now cold. Your thoughts go something like this…
“He’s always late, and never calls. He’s so inconsiderate of me. I work hard to have his a warm meal on the table when he gets home and he doesn’t even care. Why do I even bother?” You get in a "huff," heat up his dinner and practically throw it at him, then go get on the computer (or whatever you do when you want to avoid conversation and pout). Much of the evening will be wasted with you in a semi-bad mood and him wondering what on earth he did wrong….
Scenario #2: Your husband comes home from work later than he’d said and didn’t call to let you know. Dinner is now cold. Your thoughts are, “I wonder what happened that made him so late. He must have had a really long, rough day today. I’m quite tired, but I wonder what I could do to help him relax?” So you give him a big hug and tell him how much you’ve missed him, heat up his dinner, sit down with him and ask him about his day. You find out they had an unexpected inspection and it’s been a high stress day. You quickly clean up the kitchen, and decide to put on his favorite movie for him and snuggle up with him for the rest of the evening.
This particular illustration may be inapplicable to you, or unrealistic, or whatever...but you get the point. Your THOUGHTS influence your behavior.
So what does the Bible say about our thoughts? "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:5
This phrase “casting down” has the connotation of a man lassoing a
wild calf who is thrashing violently and out of control, and putting it on the ground, bringing it into subjection. Our thoughts can be the same way, running around in our mind uncontrolled, and seemingly uncontrollable, at times. While we can’t necessarily help a thought that runs through our mind, we can certainly choose whether to let it keep bucking and tearing up things, causing all sorts of trouble, or to lasso it and throw it down, so to speak.
So contrary to what you may have always believed, you CAN learn to train your feelings.... because you can learn to control your thoughts, which lead to your feelings.
Think of it like this...
THOUGHTS ----> EMOTIONS----> BEHAVIOR
So today I challenge you to be unusually conscious of your thoughts. Then, ask the Lord to help you change them. (NOTE: This WILL NOT happen overnight. You’ve spent lots of years establishing thought patterns, and it will take time to “undo” them. So don’t give up too quickly!) Something that has helped me is when I catch myself in a rotten mood, I ask myself why. Then I think through my thoughts (scary, I know) and try to pinpoint what needs to change.
So don't sit there and write me off and think of all the reasons why this won't work for you...just try it. What can it hurt?
And be sure the Lord will gladly help you... just ask Him :)