F is for Feelings.
There are 5 hearts in my family, each attached with 5 different sets of feelings. How in the world is that supposed to work?!
I wish that I could just go with the flow of my feelings. I wish I could believe the naive thoughts that the phrase “go with how your heart feels” is always good advice. I wish that my feelings told me truths all the time.
The truth is that how I feel does not necessarily depict a truth.
Here’s a hard-to-share-example:
I feel like I can’t stand Marie. In the past I have gone so far as to voice that I feel like I hate her. Then I met a group of people who, after hearing me speak about her, would say, “Wow, I can see you really love her.” Say what?! That was not how I was feeling at all! What I felt was the opposite of love! I kept meeting with this same group of people and they told me these things over and over again.
Eventually I saw the truths behind their words. If I stop to think about my frustrations with Marie I realize it comes from a place of caring about her. Now that I know that about myself I can stop feeling hatred and start learning to love and hopefully one day I can honestly say I feel that love.
I heard once that feelings don’t always come first. Actions do. So if I make the daily choice, scratch that, the moment-by-moment choice, to show an action of love, the idea would be that the feeling will follow eventually.
Mr. Sexy uses this philosophy on me all the time. I’m not alway easy to love. Sometimes what Mr. Sexy feels like doing is punching a car window or taking off for a drive or yelling at me so I can see how pissed he is. But he’s not the man he used to be. Instead he puts aside his feelings and does something that shows me love. Over and over and over again he does this.
The result: It works. And although healthy changes in our family feel very slow, the fact is there are changes. My friends and family may not see them. I may not always even see them. But change is happening.
As I am learning that my feelings are not absolute truths, Michael is learning that same lesson. I cannot describe how humbling it is to be learning a concept alongside my six-year old son. So many times he has watched me white knuckle the steering wheel, breathing big, deep breaths while angry tears streamed down my face because my feelings were giving me untruths and I had to fight that.
I’m definitely not perfect in how I handle all my feelings. I made mistakes yesterday and today and I will make more tomorrow.
But here’s the truth: A feeling is just a feeling and not rooted in absolute truth. For absolute truth I will need to turn to my Bible. And that is where I will learn how to love.