Monday, March 3, 2014

Be True To Yourself

May years ago I was stoic.  I had no feelings.  When you are in pain and you don't acknowledge your pain and go to God for healing and acceptance, your feelings either lead you to self medicate or they go into denial.  You can feel bitterness, anger and resentment and unbelief and not acknowledge that either,  your conscience and your feeling will go numb.  By the grace of God, a lady told me this.  It was a painful time but she identified the sin of my heart.  When I acknowledged it through and returned to the forgiveness and Love of God, by the Spirit my feelings came alive.  But once again I did not know what to do with my feelings so when pain came, and it did, I went into depression and had a psychotic break over them.  I lasted there for 17 years.

Then I began to see life for what and Who it was.  I began to understand who I was in Christ and acknowledge my pain. I went to God in truth honesty.  I was honest with myself about my feelings, pain and sin, with the guiding of the Spirit.  I began to be truthful about who I was and my struggles and my feelings came alive.  My heart swung from feeling no pain to being full of emotion.  I began to let these emotions rule me and I acted on them.  They directed me and how I responded to life.   I thought not to act on my feelings was to not be true to myself.  That true happiness was in being true to me.  That even if truth told me something, for it to be really true for me, I would feel it.  I was not fully aware of what my acting on my feelings was saying, but I was letting them rule me, not truth.  I was not living a life of faith.

For instance, I went on a hike and after about an hour I got fearful.  I was ready to go.  I could not leave, so I just sat upon a step and decided I would just enjoy God.  I found out I did not and should not act on my feelings.  Do not fear, trust God as Rick Thomas says in his articles on emotions.

The other day I went to the doctor and another appointment.  I came in and was tired.  I just got over whelmed with my feelings.  I became fearful and I didn't know why.  I went in and shared with my husband.  I said would you just hold me?  I am so afraid.  He did and I cried.  Then moments later, after much prayer, a couple of friends made me laugh.  I was in an emotional roller coaster, cry one moment, laughing another.  Have you ever done this?

Our feelings are a beautiful thing when they lead us to God, reveal what we are thinking.  The Psalms are full of emotion.  They can be a barometer of our heart.  They can lead us to repentance when we bring them up against truth.  We can see the condition of our thinking.  Our feelings, when acted upon them, can be the means of our living theology.  This should not be true.  Truth should be our guide to our way of life and sometimes, our feelings, if they are in check with the Spirit, will follow.  If our feelings are not following our actions then something is wrong in our everyday theology, our conscience, our thought life.  We must get to the heart of the issue.  To find out what we are believing that is not true or our feelings will be miscued.  Our feelings can be guided by our pain, as I said earlier and by our unclear conscience of suppressed sin.  Or they can be guided by the Spirit.  They can follow truth.

Paul Miller wrote, Because our culture makes feeling happy the goal, when our feelings are negative, we experience the cost of love, we think that something has gone wrong that we are not being true to ourselves.  This is why marriages end in divorce, why we end up in addictions and many other things.
Paul continues... To obey when I don't feel like it means I will feel dislocated.  He explains that frees us because it allows me to do good, to love,  no matter what my internal spirit is doing.  Our wills and emotions may not feel good and may not be in sync.  The ole "if it feels good do it" takes over.  When this happens we are dominated by our ever changing feelings.

I have been visiting a home for addicted women.  I sat with a young woman yesterday and we cried off and on for an hour.  They are going against their feelings and doing what God would have them do to be well and live happy lives.  The cost is high.  They feel dislocated and many are in pain.  But they are acting on truth, keeping a clean conscience and learning to love.

These are some of the beautiful women inside and out at the place of healing, Shalom.

Stacy who is over volunteers

 This is the chapel.

 Stacy and her son, Seth, who runs Shalom

It is important we have a clear conscience in order for our feelings to be controlled by truth and not run to others things or to go into denial. For them to be in line with truth and the Spirit.  Your conscience and your feelings can be closely related.  When one is out of sync so is the other.  When our feelings are out of line, and they will be, because we are growing and they are unreliable and always changing,  we must go to God in our honesty, sharing our feelings, asking Him to give us the strength to do what we need to do and show us where we are not believing in our heart the things that are in our head.  Sometimes, as they say in recovery, you just have to sit in them, your feelings.  It is a process of growing in faith and true freedom.