Tending to the Heart
A short time ago I was feeling like a mess and had no idea what I needed. Maybe it was a side-effect of the quarantine from the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps it was the dreary weather and the excessive rain that comes in the Spring. But there I was, feeling all out of sorts. If there is anything that life and experiences have taught me, it is that feelings can be both our most loyal friend and our greatest enemy. Or as a friend says about feelings, "They are great passengers and terrible drivers."
Still, I am grateful for those tricky emotions that I have. Grateful to experience the gift of loving and being loved. Grateful for the ability to feel empathy and compassion towards others who are hurting. Grateful for the thrill that joy brings in those moments when the world feels exactly as it should be, even when those times seem few and far between. And I've also learned to be grateful for sorrow and heartbreak. Without it, my heart would be dwarfed somehow, and lacking the balm that my experiences of hurt can bring as healing to others.
For the most part, my feelings have been a good friend to me. They are a signal worth pausing for, and paying attention to, long enough for consideration. My senses have also helped me avert danger on more than one occasion, and they do so by alerting me when something feels out of sorts. Emotions have exposed areas in my heart that need healing, just as a teacher points to an equation I might have missed on the whiteboard.
Emotions can also be my greatest enemy. There have been too many times when they have lied to me, causing me to waste energy. How many times have I avoided a conversation because I figured it would not end well? Too many. Then there are the occasions when my "just knowing" what the outcome would be has proved entirely wrong, and I was handed humility instead. So many times have I allowed fear to consume me, and then the things never actually happened.
There was a girl in high school that I used to watch from two rows over in the classroom. Not in a creepy, stalker kind of way, but I admired her. I thought she was beautiful, had perfect curls, good taste in fashion, and carried herself well. Feeling as though I paled in comparison because of a season of bad bangs, this girl seemed smarter and way cooler than me. We both grew up and lost contact as we embraced many adulting responsibilities. Then one day I found out that she had been looking at me in high school just as I had her, and had been thinking that I was the cool and attractive one.
There are times when I fall silent because my feelings have told me I just don't have important things to say; that my voice is not needed. Then, out of the blue, I get a message from a friend who tells me that a letter they received during one of my darkest times, had been a lifeline to her. It reminds me that I am worthy, and that I must pay close attention to my emotions.
Feelings can be a trigger, a warning sign of a deeper issue that needs the truth of God's love to heal. I think of the verse that says, "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) It's important to guard my heart just like one guards precious plants in a garden by pulling out the weeds that threaten to choke the plants. I must examine the challenging emotions when I have them. It's important to take them out and offer them to the One who knows all my feelings and loves me anyway. I seek to ask for direction and wisdom. Cautiously, I do not to believe every troubling thought, and every feeling that it produces. True that they are worth considering, but they are not always worth believing.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT:
Is there a recurring thought or feeling you experience that is the opposite of what God says about you? One of the lies in which I struggle and must continually take to God for healing and truth, is that I am not enough. Not smart enough. Not a good writer. A am parent that falls grossly short. I have learned through pain, and over periods of time, to examine my feelings and talk to the Lord about them. I allow Him to expose the lies and replace them with the truth. I am worth it. You are worth it. Your children and grandchildren, who are learning to navigate the world by watching you, are worth it. And there's a world waiting out there that needs the good that flows from you.
Father, I thank you that I am "fearfully and wonderfully made" Psalm 139:14 (NIV), and that you have given me the spiritual tools I need to fight the lies of the Enemy. I am enough, and I have all that I need through Jesus.
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