Monday, August 2, 2010

Emotions, Emotions

Naturally, we want to trust our feelings. We think we know what’s best, especially if we have the facts and believe our conclusion will work the best for everyone…or at least us. And our culture constantly encourages us to trust ourselves. Watch any Disney movie and it will be immersed in that me-centered theology.

In an old blog post following an experience of failing a test, I wrote: “I was prompted again to praise God, despite my feelings that conflicted.”  Funny as it seems, rereading something I wrote reminded me of how we can’t make decisions based on emotions or feelings, and how we have to rely on unchanging truth, not fluctuating emotion. At that moment I didn’t have an overwhelming emotional response that made me want to praise God. Quite the contrary, my feelings were telling me “NO!” because it didn’t seem like my circumstance was worthy of praising God. God didn’t follow my plans and answer my prayers in the way I expected. According to my rationalization, passing a test the first time was the most efficient way to accomplish things, and of course I understand and know what’s best for my life, right?

I only imagine that I do.

Jeremiah 17:9 says “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” This verse is an apt reminder of how my feelings are not to be the source of decisions, because they are not trustworthy. You are never advised or commanded in Scripture to “follow your heart” or “do what you think is right”. In fact, you find the exact opposite. Isaiah 55:8 states “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.” Making decisions based on what we feel is right is a very dangerous thing, because we become the source of truth—we make ourselves God.

So the next time you talk to someone, you respond to a circumstance you’re facing, or whatever else, ask yourself: Is my response based on what I’m feeling—my emotions—or is my response based on the truth I find in God’s Word, despite how I feel? Immersing ourselves in truth and changing our emotion-filled reactions to truth-saturated responses will not only change the way we think of things, but also affect others.


Caitlin said...

Good thoughts! It's important to base our actions on God's Word. Thanks for the reminder.

Kristen said...

I love your perspective on this-- I hadn't thought of it the way you put it. In looking to our own emotions, thoughts, and feelings, we are (as you put it) making ourselves God because "me" is the focus. I guess it all boils down to faith, self-control, and surrender. Great post--I'll be mulling this over for the next few days!