“For you, LORD, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling” Psalm 116:8 NIV
“Sometimes we are called to proclaim God’s love even when we are not yet fully able to live it.” Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey
I was born backwards, you know, butt first. I’ve been doing things that way for way too long and still have that tendency. Put my coffee table together, frustration, then read the instructions. Yes, I became pregnant and then got married. Ran away from home, then sought out a counselor. Tried many worldly things like striving for money, perfection, acceptance and then had a (spiritual awakening) breakdown leading to Jesus. “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” Another typical Prodigal Son, or daughter scenario.
Feelings were a huge part of my problem. Waiting to “feel” like cleaning the bathroom. Waiting to feel like going to work. Waiting to feel like getting counsel. Waiting to feel like going to class. Waiting to feel like loving my teenager. Waiting to feel like paying the bills. Bill collectors don’t care one bit about your feelings. Waiting to feel like becoming and being a Christian. What if Christ waited until he felt like going to the cross? We’d be dead in our sin. No hope. Paul said, “the most pitied.”
Now some good news. First, feelings are not facts. I chose daily to love my husband though, at times, I didn’t feel like it. I’m sure he didn’t feel like loving me either many rocky times. We had a wonderful and imperfect relationship. I chose to budget my money. My income stabilized and increased. I chose to love my son by listening, supporting his athletic efforts and his education. Even better news! I received marvelous feelings of warmth, appreciation, gratefulness and most of all, love. Absent feelings come back too. Sometimes despairing ones when I feel God isn’t with me. Feelings are not facts! He’s always with me.
Love is a verb. Feelings are not. Feelings require no action, they’re passive, they destroy and place blame, if not managed and understood. I feel like drinking. I feel like hitting you. I feel like complaining. I feel… On and on it goes. Love is also patient. Loving and wonderful feelings come to those who act lovingly, even when the situation is not as we hoped. Most of life is not feelings. It’s action and the good feelings come—sometimes right away and sometimes it takes years.
You have great feelings for us that we can’t comprehend. You love us and never leave us, no matter what our fickle feelings shout at us. Thank you for the gift of feelings. Thank you that Jesus showed us how to love regardless of feelings. Thank you that Christ despised the shame and looked forward to the joy set before him. May we do the same.