I feel like talking to you this month about “feelings”. We don’t like to admit it, but we really wouldn’t get much done if we relied on “feeling like” doing something. “I don’t feel like it” is a common and accepted excuse for many people.
My daughter, Erin, and I have been trying to get in shape and eat better in recent months. We haven’t made much progress because we usually aren’t willing to push past our feelings of laziness and selfishness. Does that sound harsh? Maybe, but we really have to admit that those feelings rule our diet and exercise program too often. We walked for a half hour a few times at the beginning of the summer, but then “I don’t feel like it” stopped us. Last week we did some strength exercises and then some cardio exercise for 20 minutes. We whined a little, we panted and gasped, but we did it! We’re doing it even though we don’t feel like it, and I think we’re going to see results this time. In the area of eating, it’s easy to just eat whatever we “feel like” eating, but we’re trying to watch our portions and choose good snacks instead of a diet full of Little Debbie snack cakes and ice cream. It seems like it’s getting a little easier to eat better as we push past those feelings of “I’ll eat whatever I want, whenever I want.”
Are there areas of your life where you’re letting your feelings rule your actions? Maybe you feel like sitting around most of the day, watching TV and “vegging out” when there are other things that need your attention. Maybe that problem with anger that you have has stayed around partly because you just do whatever you “feel like” doing. You “feel like” yelling at the kids, so you go with that. My dear sisters, we can’t continue this way! I speak from experience, unfortunately. The last few days I have gone with my feelings and chewed out my kids harshly for minor things they’ve done wrong. I don’t want to be that kind of mom! I’m afraid I’ve slipped a few notches down the ladder of maturity. I hear myself spewing out crabby, complaining words – my head knows it’s immature and hurtful to my kids, but it “feels” so good to just go with it and let those kids know how ticked I am and how frustrated they’ve made me. I want to encourage all of us to rise to a more mature level once again. We can choose to act more calmly and speak more kindly, even when we “feel like” blowing up.
I have gone to my kids and asked them to forgive me after my little tantrums. They do forgive me, but I know it’s harder and harder for them to do that if I keep doing whatever my “feelings” dictate. I also realize that it’s unfair for me to ask them to act right even when their “feelings” are telling them to punch their brother or sister, or swear, or refuse to do their schoolwork.
We can’t do this on our own! That selfish old sinful nature is so strong…if we rely on our feelings we’ll always choose the way that’s easiest and takes no effort on our part. So how do we do what’s right, even when it’s hard? It takes the power of the Holy Spirit.
Galatians 5:16-17 says: “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.”
That’s the key, friends. We rely on the Spirit to help us choose the right action, no matter how we’re “feeling” at any given moment. We won’t always choose correctly, but as we practice and make more and more right choices, it will get easier and easier to keep pushing aside those selfish, lazy feelings and live the way the Lord wants us to.
Soon we’ll be blessed by some very good feelings instead of the ones that used to rule our lives. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22a)
So what do you say? Do you “feel like” giving this a try? It’s hard work! It requires the painful task of saying “No!” to all of your selfish feelings and choosing the right response in every situation. As we grow stronger and choose the right response more often with the Holy Spirit’s help, we will be blessed with feelings of joy and peace – with ourselves and in our relationships with those around us. What a difference that will be from the selfish feelings that have tried to rule our lives in the past! God bless you as you go to Him for strength and learn to not rely on “feelings” anymore.