Choose Not to Be Ruled by Feelings
One More Year of Choices
By Barbara Dahlgren
If we all followed our feelings, it would be a scary world indeed! Feelings are ever-changing. One day we are up and the next we are down. Feelings are unpredictable and unreliable. Some people say, “If it feels good, do it.” Afterwards, those same people might say, “Boy, I wish I hadn’t done that!” What feels good one day may feel horrible the next. Our feelings can be as fickle as we are. Feelings should not rule our lives.
The Bible says we can be angry but do not have to sin. (Ephesians 4:26) In other words, we should control our emotions instead of letting our emotions control us. Cain did something horrible when he couldn’t control his feelings. He killed his brother Abel. Cain did not know how to deal with his feelings of jealousy, resentment, and inadequacy. Following our feelings can sometimes get us into trouble.
We need to learn to make decisions that are not based on feelings. We must make right choices regardless of how we feel. God can help us do this. He won’t do it for us, but He will guide us in the right direction through prayer, meditation, and reading His word. We need to choose to follow godly principles instead of human nature.
We have to listen to what God says, not what people say. People want to debate scripture based on how they feel. Truth is truth, regardless of how we feel. People might say, “Follow your heart!” But God says following our hearts can be foolish, because our hearts can be deceitful and lead us in the wrong direction. (Jeremiah 17:9, Proverbs 28:26) Feelings can cloud issues, because feelings are not facts. Just because we feel something does not make it true.
Believe it or not, our feelings are important to God. Jesus felt deeply about things. He wept. (John 11:35) God keeps track of our sorrows and tears. (Psalm 56:8) He came for the brokenhearted. (Luke 4:17) He rejoices with us. (Zephaniah 3:17)
God created feelings and expects them to be an outlet for what happens in our lives. However, He never intended them to be a guide for what is right or wrong. It’s unwise to base decisions totally on how we feel. We might feel attracted to someone, but that doesn’t mean he/she would make a good marriage partner.
Sometimes we must fight our feelings or they will lead us in the wrong direction. Feelings of desire can lead to adultery. Feelings of jealousy can destroy relationships. Feelings of hatred can cause death. Feelings of success can lead to self-centeredness.
Consider this… Our feelings are uncertain and constantly changing, like shifting sand. However, Jesus is constant. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 3:8) So perhaps we should let Him rule our lives, instead of our emotions. If we focus on Jesus, the emotional roller coaster ride of life will not get out of control.
Suggestions for practicing this choice…
Sometimes it’s helpful to pinpoint specifically why we feel a certain way. Feeling bad is not a specific term. Are we feeling guilty, fearful, sad, disappointed, jealous, unappreciated, angry, or lonely? When did this feeling start? Is it just one thing upsetting us, or a number of things that happened throughout the day? Analyzing why we feel the way we do can help us understand and control our emotions.
Remember, just because we feel a certain way does not mean we need to take action. Sometimes we need to just wait it out. Feelings can be very temporary.
Are there things we can do to help the feelings subside? Perhaps we can exercise, watch a movie, listen to music, do a random act of kindness, or finish a project. We do this not to escape problems, but to get our mind on other things for a while.
If the feeling still persists we might need to counsel with someone to get a different perspective. And we definitely should be taking it to God in prayer.
What if we don’t feel like doing what needs to be done? Do it anyway. If people always wait for inspiration before they do something, nothing will get done!