Recently I had my last class with a group of teenagers I’ve taught for the past several years. After class teens gathered in groups, laughing and talking with friends. Really, that’s what teenagers do.
Putting my coat on, I felt the awkward absence of any recognition that I would no longer be with them.
One girl came over and gave me a hug, “I’ll miss you.” Hugging her back, I thanked her with a smile.
Are you going to believe
what your feelings are telling you?
I walked out of the room and took a deep breath, praying, “Lord, don’t let me go there. Don’t let feelings start pushing me around.”
You see, it was easy to feel that silence means they don’t care.
A lack of appreciation or recognition feels like my teaching failed. “If you’d made an impact, they’d be sad to see you go. They’d at least say thanks.” Emotions can open the door to false accusations.
It is a slippery slope, when feelings take control.
They don’t care. My teaching wasn’t good enough, these are thoughts that gain emotional momentum. This day, I’m going to shut the door to the voices in my head.
Emotions don’t pipe down on command. They keep trying to get a word in to spoil the day. Lies expand and accelerate…And your writing isn’t effective either. No one cares what you write. You’re a failure.
So quick. Quick as a breath or the blink of an eye, and I can be on my way to an emotional mess.
Maybe you don’t struggle with this, but for me this has been a major battle of the soul.
We respond to our world through the amazing gift of our emotions. In the moment, truth can seem as close as the latest feeling barging into our thoughts.
Feelings are powerful. Convincing. Enticing.
But they are not truth.
Feelings sometimes shout and sometimes whisper, as they bully and badger, making us believe they carry truth. It all feels so real.
Feelings are responses.
Feelings are responders and messengers. They hold no power to dictate truth unless we allow them to speak false belief to our souls.
We are so tempted to respond to our merry-go-round of feelings as truth. If I feel it, it must be true.
Feelings feel true.
My kids would fall on the floor laughing at this Mom-ism that sounds so stupid…but is so true.
And we fall for it, way too often and all too easily.
I feel rejected–I think I am rejected–I begin to believe I am rejected. I feel discouraged–I am discouraged. I feel loved–I am loved.
The convincing power of our feelings sway our thoughts and we can believe the messages our feelings shout loud and long.
In reality, feelings just are. I feel good, I feel mad, happy, sad, hopeful, disappointed….and on and on they go.
Here’s the thing that matters.
Feelings are not true or false. They are responders and messengers.
What we feel is what we feel. Sometimes we need to give ourselves permission to feel what we feel without judging it. Without lecturing it. Without discounting or stuffing it. (I’m pretty good at that one.) But woohoo we also have a choice in what we believe!
I’m learning to recognize the dangerous slope of negative emotions. I’m learning to pray and trust God to keep me above the fray. I’m learning to hang onto to truth, again and again, until the emotions begin to settle.
So about that day…
This particular day, I was able to hold firm to truth. There are other times when I fall smack down into the muck. But this day, I was able to walk down the hall confident I have given my best.
And this I know–they appreciate the gift I’ve given. I know they value me. And I recognize they are teenagers, consumed with their world. And it’s okay.
I also know that I give my time to honor God and serve others –the responses and results are really His territory, not mine.
I can walk down the hall with a smile and let the feelings just be there until they pass. Which they do, and I am free to love without feelings dredging up thoughts that just aren’t true.
Discipleship of the heart.
Discipleship goes far beyond how to study the Bible, pray diligently, and share the gospel. On a very practical level, God is teaching us to live in the freedom of truth, not driven or misled by emotions. For me, this has been a practical journey I call discipleship of my heart.
You see, knowledge is just information until we can live it out in the choices we make. This is when feelings lose the power to drive truth and we are free to love others well.
What are your feelings telling you? Are they impacting your ability to love others well?