You decide whether or not to trust your emotions.
I recently read a novel from the perspective of a severely mentally-ill teenager. Partway through the book, when he first began to recognize his paranoia, he tried to describe the jarring experience of imagining fictitious enemies all around him:
“Don Quixote–the famous literary madman–fought windmills. People think he saw giants when he looked at them, but those of us who’ve been there know the truth. He saw windmills, just like everyone else–but he believed they were giants. The scariest thing of all is never knowing what you’re suddenly going to believe.” – Challenger Deep
As this young man slowly learned to test the validity of his feelings, I saw myself in him. You may not suffer from his mental illness, but I think we can all relate to the decision he faced: what will we choose to believe?
Lately, my emotions have been telling me lies. They’ve been whispering that I’m not loved–that I’m not equipped to handle my circumstances. They’ve been encouraging me to lash out at other people.
By the grace of God, however, I know better. Over years of practice and godly training, I have learned to step back from my emotions and say, “You aren’t real.” Feelings provide information, but they do not dictate my behavior–or yours!
Feelings of frequent anger and sadness, which lie outside the realm of my normal personality, indicate that I have been through some difficult experiences lately. They reveal an inner state of weariness, frustration, and discouragement … nothing more.
The truth, which God speaks over me though His Word, His Spirit, and His people, quiets the impact of my moods. In my weakness, He is strong. He has not left me alone. He surrounds me with blessings in the midst of trials.
Think about how you’ve been feeling lately: hopeless; worthless; angry; afraid. You hate yourself sometimes–and other people, too. You’re overwhelmed, confused, and desperate. How can you extend compassion to others when you need it for yourself?
Let me speak some truth over you to counteract those difficult emotions. You, the individual reading this blog post right now, are precious and valuable to your Father. You matter to God … and the same holds true for every human being on the planet.
You can choose to disbelieve your feelings.
It’s hard not to believe your emotions because they come out of your head–and what’s more trustworthy than your own brain? I’ll answer that for you: God is. You can trust Him more than anything you see, hear, or feel–and He says you have value.
Those of us who’ve known God long enough to rest in His care have a unique calling for this hurting, broken world. We know we matter, so we can show others they do, too. First, though, we need to decide what we will believe: our feelings, or our Lord.
The Reluctant Bride