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Feelings....whoa, feelings....

"Love dies only when growth stops." Pearl S. Buck (American Novelist)

13 Look at what God has made. You cannot change a thing, even if you think it is wrong. 14 When life is good, enjoy it. But when life is hard, remember that God gives us good times and hard times. And no one knows what will happen in the future. (Ecclesiastes 7:13-14 ERV)

Buck also reminds us, "You cannot make yourself feel something you do not feel, but you can make yourself do right in spite of your feelings." We cannot underestimate the power of our feelings, for they often become either the catalyst behind our actions, or the anchor behind our inaction. There are days when we look at what comes our way and "feel" like we can handle each challenge, while at other times we simply have different "feelings" that tell us we won't handle another thing. Most of us engage in this insurmountable task of "changing things" because some "feeling" tells us change is necessary. When we find the difficulty in accomplishing the change, we get all balled up in even further emotion which leads to more and more frustration with the lack of change.

We have all probably heard the old adage of "taking the good with the bad" on more than one occasion. Easier said than done, right? We don't find the emotions hard to follow when they are steering us toward something we view are "rewarding" or "fulfilling". As soon as the emotions are not really being pulled in the direction we "want" to be going, we get bogged down and sometimes even find the task ahead of us as what we label "too hard". Things we view as "too hard" are often abandoned. I abandoned learning to play golf simply because getting that tiny white ball into that tiny hole so doggone far away was "too hard". I abandon a fishing hole that isn't yielding any fish after a reasonable amount time and effort, but I don't abandon fishing! Why? I enjoy it!

Changing based on feelings is kind a perilous place to be since our feelings aren't always all that reliable. I think God would rather we be honest about our feelings, though, than to go about "doing stuff" just because it is stuff that needs to "get done". There are days I don't "feel" like writing - I'd rather just go fishing! You know what I do to when this happens? I go fishing. Why? Sometimes I need the renewal and "clearing of my mind" being at the fishing hole brings. There is nothing wrong with observing how one is "feeling", then acting upon it when the feeling pushes us in the right direction.

In fact, there are times when I observe the tiresome work of the ants moving back and forth to their nest and think of the next thing I will write about. At other times, I listen to the gentle breeze, observe the incoming clouds of a summer's rain storm, or see the eagle swoop down with such grace to scoop up fish bigger than I'd imagined could be in the waters. All of this gives me gentle pushes toward writing again - it renews my inner being and often gives me reminders about the care, protection, and provision of the God I serve.

Feelings aren't to be our motivating force, but they are behind our every action. As Buck said, sometimes we "do right" despite how we are feeling. I need time in the Word - so even when I don't always "feel it", I take in even a little bit. That morsel may be what gives me fodder for the day's thoughts, keeps me centered when I want to get off-balance, and holds me firm when I find the journey rougher than I'd hoped. We cannot ignore our feelings, but we can learn to "use them" to drive us forward, instead of keeping us anchored in places we would do better to move away from. Just sayin!


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