Touch is powerful. When Joel and I held hands for the first time, it was electric. I don’t mean to sound dramatic here, but Joel had only hugged me or lightly put his arm around me for at least the first couple months of our relationship. So on a chilly night in early spring, fire crackling in front of us, Joel slipped his fingers through mine. Finger. By. Finger. The butterflies came up out of my tummy and into my throat. I’ve never seen Joel act in impulse. This wasn’t just hormonal or emotional, it was intentional. There was purpose behind it. He didn’t just have an urge to touch me and do it. He was saying I was important. Worth his time. He was saying he saw a future with me and was ready for whatever was next on our great adventure. He wasn’t acting on an in the moment “feeling…”
Cause let’s talk about “feelings” for a second. Unpredictable. Unreliable. Inconsistent. They are not made to dictate our actions. Something may make us feel happy, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. Too often we act based on how we feel: be it emotional, hormonal, or temperamental. Those types of “feelings” were never meant to help us make decisions. See Jeremiah 17:9 for further proof…
They’ll get you into a mess, those feelings. They’ll make you think that because you’re angry you can yell at someone. Or because you want something, you should have it. Or because you’re attracted to someone you can be physical with them. This reminds me of my almost two-year-old.
If Olson feels that he wants a cookie, he thinks he needs that cookie. I can hardly reason with him about why lots of sugar isn’t wise and how it’ll ruin his appetite for dinner. He’s like…BUT I WANT THE COOKIE. And I’m like, yeah, me too son. It’s a hard knock life.
It’s hard to reason with adult people about their feelings as well. There isn’t stomping of feet and screaming, but it sometimes is just as difficult to communicate logic. A couple feels happy together so they overlook how unhealthy they are for each other and do what feels good. Someone doesn’t feel like exercising, even though they need to be in better shape. We could probably point at other people and tell them what they should do. But it’s harder when it comes to our own whims and wants. So we forego the common sense given to us by intelligent design.
Exhibit A, yours truly. I am a feeler more than a thinker. And on many occasions throughout my life I have acted on feeling rather than thinking. Thankfully, I have the best parents in the whole dang world and surrounded myself with really good “thinkers” who helped me make good decisions as I went through grade school. I’m forever indebted to them. And now I have Joel who is a wonderful rational and level-headed person. So see, I kind of cheated. But this is what community is for! This is what parents are for! We need to seek advice from those who have lived a little more.
My dad always taught me to use my “gut” when it came to making difficult decisions. Otherwise known as the Holy Spirit, the whisper inside us guiding us along the river of life. (Anybody else have an urge to sing “Just Around the Riverbend?”) Like a smooth and subtle current within our soul, this intuitive voice was meant to protect us from falling astray or to caution us; and to give us the motivation we need to do the RIGHT thing. Take that risk. Build that business. Go on that mission trip. It prompts us towards peace over happiness. And patience over anger. Leaps of faith over safe baby steps.
It doesn’t tell us to go around kissing people because it’s fun. It doesn’t tell us to treat people poorly just because we might not care for them. And it certainly doesn’t excuse impatience, irresponsibility and immorality.
When Joel held my hand, I know there was more than just logic to it. I was someone he cared deeply about. There was definitely love behind it. Passion even. He was still getting to know me and yet we both knew we had a future together. So he was careful, trying to listen to the Holy Spirit inside of him and not give whim to those pesky hormones and “feelings.” He was just that type of person. He believed in the type of God who will guide us whether in regards to dating, character, or decision-making. God’s word says…
Psalm 119:11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
… but it’s up to us to decide to put the Word there. It doesn’t just happen by osmosis.
I think when we talk about acting on feelings, it’s easy to picture younger people. Maybe the visual we get is of a child throwing a fit. Or a teenager not getting their way. We teach the junior and senior high school students at our church and they often share their feelings and struggles with us. I pity them in many ways because I know how difficult it must be for them to make level-headed decisions when they are immersed in a world full of impulse and selfishness.
Much to my dismay, however, it’s not just the teenagers acting on impulse and feelings rather than the voice of God. It’s us adults. And as we’re trying to teach our teenagers how to make good decisions based on the wisdom and the Word of God, I’ve noticed how hard it STILL is for me to do as an adult. They need us to be the example and they’ve inspired me to pay more attention to my own character as I help guide them in theirs.
Speaking of feelings, Olson just threw an absolute fit because we took away his sucker. But then again I threw a fit because I didn’t want to wash the dishes. We could use a “feelings extinguisher” over here at the Land household.
Have a great week friends and, as always, thanks for reading!