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To feel or not to feel – in a culture that says ‘follow your heart’

August 6, 2020

We live in a culture that is all about trusting your feelings.

“Follow your heart.”

“Listen to your gut.”

“Feel all the feels.”

But the truth is that we can’t trust our feelings, not all the time.

If I always followed my feelings, I would never work out. I’d eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, regardless of how it made my body or brain feel.

I’d quit projects before finishing them.

I’d start all sorts of fires of over jealousy and bitterness.

I’d hold grudges.

I’d fall out of love to fall into love to fall out of love again.

I’d live in my bed and binge watch cooking shows all day.

And this is pretty much what does happen to me when I get swayed by my feelings.

However, that doesn’t mean some of my feelings aren’t trustworthy and good at times. It doesn’t mean I don’t observe my feelings and seek to understand them. It doesn’t mean I suppress my feelings or shove them away. 

I think feelings matter but I don’t want to be defined or ruled by my feelings because they change every two second. 

Over the last two years, I’ve started to realize that my feelings – as big as they were – were not the best tour guides for my life. 

They weren’t giving me the most accurate information.

They weren’t making my life any bit better or more free.

They were making it harder to make solid, wise decisions.

They were not allowing me to thrive and that’s because I was investing so much in them. Quite the opposite of thriving, I felt most days that I was a captive to whatever feeling wanted to have me for that moment, that hour and that day. 

They were hardly good or useful feelings. 

I felt like a failure. I felt sad and depressed. I felt the need to perform and to always be impressive.  My feelings ping-ponged  me in a lot of different directions and I didn’t know they didn’t always have my best interest in mind.

Feelings can be such a beautiful thing. 

It would be hopelessly boring to navigate this life without feelings.

Feelings are why people write love stories that shake the world  or you get stirred up, ball your fists and move towards action when you see injustice happening. Feelings are why you’re moved to tears when you read a good book or listen to an incredible song. 

We need these things to make life full of life and beauty and passion. I’m a believer that we have feelings because God fully intended for us to have them. 

However, we are raised to follow our heart and in the same breath,  we are told our hearts are fickle and don’t know what it wants. 

So which is it?

I think it is both. I think you can live a beautiful life and lead from your heart while also learning how to bring things of your heart to God. I think there is a way to see your feelings and acknowledge them while also being in control of them. 

I think there’s a power-packed and thriving version of life to live where we can be stronger and better because we hold to faith over fleeting feelings.

Jesus felt things. Majorly. And I get so much comfort in that. 

He wept. He experienced anger. He called out injustice. He felt fear. He loved and he laughed and He made the most of his time on this planet.

But all throughout the text you read, that He got alone with God. A lot!

More than He preached or taught his followers or performed miracles.

He constantly got away with God and I can imagine that is where he first began to deal with all the feelings inside of Him. 

And that’s where I want to land on today.

When we get alone with God and bring our feelings to him, we can both, honor the things inside of us and also be open to seeing them from a different perspective – His perspective.

We can be free to say, “I’m tempted to trust this feeling right now but I want to trust You more. I want to understand why I feel this way.” 

There’s typically always a reason.

Something beneath the surface.

Something to learn.

Something God wants to illuminate through our happiness, loneliness sadness, jealousy, or feelings of rejection. 

He wants to be close and I think He uses our feelings to get closer, to show us more of who we could become if we would just let go of that which doesn’t serve us.

I have immense and big big feelings.  

But I have an even more immense and bigger God. 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him,     and he will make your paths straight. - Proverbs 3:5-6

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