Not who I am

2016-08-20 11.48.14

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

~Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

One hard lesson that has been a long time coming is that I am not who I feel I am. If I felt bad, then I must be bad. That the panic I feel inside must mean that something is wrong. The hard lesson learned is that you can’t always trust how you feel.

A dear friend of mine is moving. She expressed how overwhelming packing feels. It feels that it is more than she can do. When talking about packing up her stuff she said that even though she felt like running to bed and pulling up the covers she knew that she had to do something even a little bit. Once she got started, she found it got easier. If she listened to how she felt and believed her feelings were a reality, she wouldn’t have gotten anything done.

I like the way Henri Nouwen talks about feelings not defining who we are in his book, Bread for the Journey, “Our emotional lives move up and down constantly.  Sometimes we experience great mood swings: from excitement to depression, from joy to sorrow, from inner harmony to inner chaos.  A little event, a word from someone, a disappointment in work, many things can trigger such mood swings.  Mostly we have little control over these changes.  It seems that they happen to us rather than being created by us.

Thus it is important to know that our emotional life is not the same as our spiritual life.  Our spiritual life is the life of the Spirit of God within us.  As we feel our emotions shift, we must connect our spirits with the Spirit of God and remind ourselves that what we feel is not who we are.  We are and remain, whatever our moods, God’s beloved children.”

Another good friend of mind says we are taught to trust our feelings but some days it isn’t so simple because we don’t seem to be thinking clearly, too much is coming at us or depression has set in. What do we do in these times we can’t trust what we feel? In Philippians 4:18 it says “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

On days I can’t think clearly, I try to set my mind on things that I do know to be true. I know that God loves me and that I am a beloved child of God. Not everyone knows this, and I count myself lucky to know this truth. I think on good, lovely admirable things that I know; those things I have stored in my heart for such a moment as this and I keep moving one step at a time. Like my friend who is overwhelmed with packing, each step I continue to take I seem to move away from the confusion.

Heavenly Father, I thank You for the good moments in life that are stored in my heart like a picture album. I thank You for the truth that I am Your child and that You so love me. I thank You that Your Word is planted in me so that when I need words of comfort they surface. I thank You for the Holy Spirit that lives in me, prodding me towards the things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable. Amen.

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