(The Single Woman Series – Batch 3)
The term ‘feelings’ is quite popularly used in today’s society. People who are interested in each other and think they are beginning to care about the other in a romantic way, often express that they have ‘feelings’ for each other. We are often told that we should consider the ‘feelings’ of others and we are quick to ask people how they ‘feel’ about this or that.
In fact, a large percentage of what we do or don’t do in life and the decisions we make are based on how we feel.
I have come to realize though, that you can’t expect your feelings to always be aligned to the truth. In fact, your feelings are often times the product of the flesh that is still within you, which is at variance with God, does not have your best interest at heart and therefore cannot be trusted.
That is why you can place no confidence in how you feel and ought to make no decisions based on just this factor. For, feelings, as strong as they may be, as persuasive as they may seem, can be deceptive.
Not because you genuinely feel a certain way, does it mean that this validates a certain complementary course of action. There are times that you will feel like NOT DOING something when you should, even where it would be detrimental to you or to others if you don’t do it. Yet, that feeling remains. If you give in to it, you suffer the consequences of your inaction. For example, you may feel like not going to work one morning, when you have an important meeting with your supervisor and you have exhausted all of your entitlement to leave days. If you give in to your feeling because it is so overwhelming, this will land you in serious trouble with your supervisor and employer.
Other times, you may feel strongly TO DO something but the truth is you should not do it. For example, you may feel the genuine urge to have premarital sex with someone you feel you love tremendously or you may feel justified in cheating on your husband just once with that guy that has been giving you the attention you crave, while your husband has been ignoring your feelings for weeks. You may feel like cursing that co-worker that has been provoking you for no reason and you feel that this is justified or you may get up one morning and feel like not going to Church or feel down and depressed and to eat as much chocolate and ice cream as you can find in the refrigerator, although this is bad for your health.
The point is this: Feelings cannot be trusted or relied upon in guiding your actions and inactions. How you feel ought not to be the compass by which you go by or else you will find yourself in dangerous and self-detrimental situations.
As a matter of fact, there are five (5) inner inclinations that we may have from time to time if we are Christians, namely conscience, conviction, intuition, feelings and discernment.
It is important to note that they are not at all the same.
Conscience, conviction and discernment come from God and since he is trustworthy, these can therefore be relied on in every situation. Intuition and feelings however, cannot be relied on one hundred percent of the time, as they emanate from your flesh and as we said before, your flesh does not have your best interest at heart, nor does it have any regard for God.
In fact, you may FEEL that you are head over heels in love with a very hot guy who promises to be your everything but yet you are convicted in your spirit as a Christian because you know that he is not a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and that you are therefore not supposed to be unequally yoked with him.
Or, he may have made a profession of faith with his lips, attend Church regularly and even sing in the choir but despite the strong feelings that you have for him, you sense in your spirit through discernment (which only those who have the Spirit of Christ within them experience), that it is all a facade and he does not really have any kind of relationship with the Lord. He is an imposter or a counterfeit. You also discern that, as great as he is treating you now, he has not been sent by God and you have absolutely no peace about moving forward with that relationship. In such a case, you can choose to give in to how you FEEL (which is from your flesh) or what you have discerned (which is of God).
Christians have all five (5) inclinations with them on a day to day basis, whereas those who don’t have relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, have only conscience, feelings and intuition accompanying them in their daily lives. Whereas the Christian is convicted daily whenever he does wrong, unbelievers are only convicted when they are under the sound of the gospel or they read it and are being invited by the Holy Spirit to see their sin condition, recognize their need for a Saviour, believe on Jesus Christ and his resurrection, confess him as Lord and repent.
To operate in this life without discernment and ongoing conviction is downright dangerous, as these are effective and reliable guides, having emanated from God. However, those who do not believe that Jesus rose from the dead and have not confessed his Lordship with their mouths (unbelievers), cannot be graced with these abilities. For, as the Bible states, they are spiritually dead and discernment and ongoing daily conviction is only for those who have been made alive in Jesus Christ by faith in his resurrection and who have humbly confessed the truth with their mouths that he is Lord.
Given that Christians are spiritually alive and have the Holy Spirit to guide and instruct them, they ought to be less prone to fall into the trap of acting or not acting based on what their ‘feelings’ dictate or what they think based on intuition alone.
Thankfully, whenever in doubt, we also have the Word of God to inform us whether our feelings should be acted on or not, as the Word of God is truth, all of the time. We must therefore remind ourselves that God’s Word (not our feelings) is our authority to live by.
I remember feeling very attracted to a guy at Church with whom I worked closely in Sunday School for almost two years. My feelings were telling me that he was most likely the one but as the months rolled on, I began to discern another side to his character which I found unsettling in my spirit. This did nothing to change how I felt though and I resolved that when he finally informed me that he was interested in me (instead of giving what seemed like vague indicators), I would have to sit him down for a serious chat, to discuss these behaviours that I was seeing that I did not like.
Of course, by the grace of God, he never did expressly indicate definitive interest and when I knew for sure that he was not THE ONE God wanted for me, I thought back on the Boaz story in the Bible that I had presented to the Sunday School class over the space of some weeks. In that moment, I remembered how I had said to myself while studying the traits of Boaz in detail, that the man I was interested in and felt so attracted to, did not appear (in my humble view), to have most of these traits. In retrospect, I believe that God had been showing me from his Word, using the Boaz story, that this was not the one for me. Yet, how I ‘felt’ made me ignore it until it turned out for sure, that he wasn’t to be my future spouse.
In answer to the question therefore, ‘Does How You Feel Matter?’, I would conclude, not really. Based on my own experience, there is a disparity sometimes in what I know and how I feel.
For example, I know that I am precious in God’s sight, am his Royal Daughter and significant, yet there are days when I’m going through a dry patch in life and I don’t feel that way. There are days, despite me knowing who I am in Jesus Christ, that I ‘feel’ absolutely worthless, like a colossal failure and the worst wretch on earth. Although I know that he has promised to never leave me or forsake me, there are days that I ‘feel’ like he is fed up of me and all of my problems, wants nothing to do with me and that I am destined to keep on feeling like a failure in life.
In such situations, how I ‘feel’ does not matter. Only God’s Word which is truth, matters. I must therefore abandon how I feel, no matter how strong and persuasive and embrace what God says about me.
God’s Word the Bible trumps my feelings, every time. I can’t trust my feelings but I can trust Him. For, he is not a God that he should lie. I can’t say the same about my flesh which births my feelings.
Discounting how you feel in pursuit of what is true does not mean that your opinions on an issue are not important and should not be voiced. It does not as well, negate the different emotions that you may experience from time to time. However, while how we feel is certainly valid and common to the human experience, given that it may not always be steeped in reality or truth, we ought not to make decisions (especially major ones that could affect our lives, our future and the generations to come), based solely on feelings.
(Written on 12th September, 2017, adjusted thereafter)