I’m a deep feeler. I am sensitive. I am empathetic. I am conscientious. I feel things to my very core, and it can be very hard for me to simply brush things off. Although I don’t enjoy conflict, I do definitely place a high value on talking about feelings and allowing yourself to be vulnerable. Authentic. Transparent.
Those are such buzz words nowadays, and I’m on board. I am all for living an authentic life. Living a life full of confidence and conviction.
But what I don’t want to do is leave Jesus in the dust while I’m over here supposedly living my best life based on how I feel.
God gave us our emotions. God gave us our feelings, and He gave us them specifically for specific purposes. Sometimes that purpose is so we demonstrate mercy and grace, or so we share humility with others. And sometimes, those feelings show us our dire need for a Savior—our utter lostness without the anchor of Christ.
I repeated those words in Hebrews to myself two weeks ago as I sat on the bathroom floor, hunched over the toilet, clutching the white porcelain and certain I would lose my marbles at any moment. I told myself that verse over and over again. I told myself that I could trust God.
You see, I absolutely hate throwing up. I mean, no one enjoys it, but I hate it. I get panicky when I feel nauseated, and typically when I am sick with some sort of digestive problem, I cry.
So in that moment, on the cold bathroom floor at 2 a.m., I cried out to God. I asked him to take away the pain. I asked him to heal me. And I finally relaxed enough to realize my body is going to do what it needs to do. If I needed to get sick, then that would be okay. I would be okay. God is still good.
After a good almost two hours of intense nausea like that, still nothing had happened. I crawled back to bed and eventually fell asleep. The next two days, I rested; I then went back to work and all seemed to be well.
Except eight days later, the same situation happened again.
I felt ready this time. I was somewhat scared but ready. I could do this. I would be okay.
And again, nothing.
I felt this intense pain, discomfort, and uneasiness. I spent half of the night awake on the bathroom floor trying to understand what was going on.
While I have a doctor’s appointment soon and am hopeful for some answers (Is it dairy? Is it gluten? Is it this new medication?), the fact of the matter remains: I don’t understand. I don’t understand, and I feel pretty darn crappy. These gastrointestinal issues have left me feeling fearful and in pain. I have even felt lonely and sad.
Why am I telling you about my GI issues in detail?
Because these uncomfortable moments and negative feelings have shown me my need to be totally reliant on Christ.
I cannot do this life alone. I cannot control everything, and I cannot base my faith on my feelings. There will be countless times in this life when I don’t feel well. Whether that’s due to an illness or medication, or because of a broken heart, loss, or longing, we will continue to not feel well in this lifetime.
If you do a Google search for “core feelings,” “basic emotions,” or something along those lines, you’ll find a few variations of the list developed by psychologists. The psych major in me loves this stuff, and I think this list of nine core feelings really gets to the heart:
These are feelings we will experience on a regular basis, even daily. Not might but will.
Not only do I feel physical pain and emotional fear from GI issues, but I feel some loneliness because I’m in a long-distance relationship. I also feel love and passion from that relationship. At the same time, I feel guilt and shame when I indulge in sin, when I turn away from God.
Frustration, sadness, embarrassment, regret, isolation—all feelings we’ll encounter on earth as humans.
Feelings cannot carry us through the struggles. Only faith can do that.
We serve a God who has felt every feeling as He walked this earth, fully man and fully God. Jesus was tempted in every way and yet sinless. He is perfect. Because of this, we know we can run to Him when we are tempted and when we feel these negative emotions.
God is super specific in His Word about who we are. He gave us an identity, and we can stand in that truth even when we don’t feel like it. Even when we don’t feel as though as have an identity, or when we feel like the ways in which we define ourselves are crumbling. Because that's the thing:
If we place our true selves in our always feeling happy, then we will always come up empty.
We’ll be looking for our job, relationships, bank accounts, homes, and bodies to satisfy us. Except they never will.
Like impure dross being transformed into gold, we are going to be refined by fire. I expect that fire will come with difficult emotions.
Read through 1 Peter 1; you’ll see what I mean.
We will be tested. We won’t always feel good about that. But let us still rejoice! God gave us feelings. And they’re not all bad feelings. He gave us hope, peace, compassion, humility, love. He gave us all these feelings through His son, Jesus, and asked us to walk by faith.
I have to walk by faith even when I don’t feel like it. It’s the only way. Believe me, a lot of the times I just don’t feel like it! Living a life without God is easier. But I have a living hope and an assurance of salvation through faith in Christ alone. We are all offered that. When we cast our burdens onto God—no matter how big or how small—He will carry us through. Our feelings cannot dictate our faith. But when we walk by faith and ask for a spirit of rejoicing, the feelings will follow.
If you want to talk more about Jesus Christ and faith and what-the-heck-is-all-this-stuff, shoot me a message. I love meeting new people, whether virtually or in person, and gabbing about life.
And if you'd like to know more of my story, you can read my testimony here.
Truly, He makes beautiful things.