First, let me say the following five things:
- I am a therapist.
- I like feelings.
- I think feelings are a good thing.
- I think we need to be aware of our feelings.
- I think feelings can sometimes help, protect, teach, and even guide us.
And then let me say a sixth thing:
6. I think feelings can be dangerous when they get a hold of the steering wheel.
Though I believe feelings can be wonderful passengers and helpful navigators in our “life vehicles,” I believe they can be rather dangerous, very unhelpful, and incredibly misleading when they are in charge.
I don’t feel in love with her/him anymore.
I don’t feel like forgiving them.
I don’t feel like being honest.
I don’t feel like dealing with this conflict.
I don’t feel like providing for my family.
I don’t feel like serving.
I don’t feel like controlling my desires.
I don’t feel like God loves me…like He’s here…like He sees.
Let’s just shoot straight.
Sometimes we don’t feel like a whole lot of things.
Sometimes it feels like it would be a whole lot easier and whole lot better to give in, give up, and run away. Sometimes it feels like it would be easier to let things slide, to avoid, and to deny. And the reality is, it probably would be.
Is it the best? Is it the healthiest? Is it the most God-honoring?
When we let our feelings drive our choices, we can wind up in all kinds of places and in all kinds of positions we’d rather not be and really shouldn’t go.
Rewind to this past Wednesday…
We had pushed through some tears on Monday, and we had addressed some fears on Tuesday, but on Wednesday…our son had decided that he couldn’t and wouldn’t be going to his third day of Art Camp.
I was encouraging; I was challenging; and I was gently pushing. But when push came to shove, our Jr. Color Explorer would not be attending.
As we pulled out of the parking lot, I immediately heard a gush of sobs.
“I’m sorry, Mommy. I’m sorry.”
Taking a deep breath and trying to summon an extra measure of grace and patience for this very “new-to-us-experience” (a problem that caused issues at VBS last month and is now an issue every single Sunday when I drop him off to Sunday School class), I simply said, “Buddy, I’m not angry with you, and you have not sinned against me. You don’t need to apologize. Am I frustrated? Yes. I’m frustrated because I feel like you’re letting your feelings drive your car.”
It was silent in the backseat.
“I’m frustrated for you, and I’m afraid you’re missing out on some really awesome things you love and enjoy because sometimes you have scared feelings. I’m worried that you’re letting your feelings dictate your choices.”
Again, it was silent.
“Buddy, it’s okay to have moments when you miss me and times when you feel scared about new experiences, but I guess I’d like to see you push through those.”
It was quiet…again. Knowing our boy, I decided to let the challenge marinate and move on with the rest of our day.
When he brought it up again, five hours had passed.
“I think I want to go back to Art Camp tomorrow.”
“Yeah. I think I need to stop letting my feeling carry me away.”
My eyes welled with tears. I absolutely LOVED the way he had taken my challenge and made it his own.
He was right; feelings can absolutely carry us away…to all kinds of distorted, broken, confused, wrong, and empty places.
“Buddy, I think that’s a great idea.”
And guess what?
Today, he went back to Art Camp.
And though he reported having one moment where the tears showed up (tears are perfectly acceptable), he was able to acknowledge them, push through them and enjoy his stained-glass art project.
Like I say to my clients and will continue to preach to my children (and myself)…
We don’t want to deny our feelings, but we certainly don’t want to give them permission to dictate our lives, destroy our joy, and determine our paths.
Any feelings got the steering wheel of your life?
Friend, take the wheel back and put your hands on His!