I entered the large waiting room with my family in tow. We knew it would be a long wait, so we brought games with us to play. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find an open spot to set up camp.
Just as I found a table that would work for us, a woman came and began to take it apart, feeding its pieces to the flames in the nearby fireplace.
At first I felt shocked, but then anger and frustration quickly followed. It seemed we faced obstacles in every direction we turned.
To top it all off, as I looked for a space to settle in, my phone and my mom’s computer went missing – stolen while my back was turned!
I stormed around the waiting room, looking for the culprit and managed to find my mom’s computer … just before my alarm woke me.
A sigh of relief.
It was just a dream, and boy was I ever thankful!
Yet even as I walked through our morning routine, I felt the lingering effects of the bad dream. Frustration and anger clung to me even as I dropped our children off at school. I knew what happened in my dream wasn’t real, but my feelings weren’t catching up to reality!
The truth is, my feelings often get the best of me!
Exercising self-discipline over my emotions is still a work-in-progress area for me. I tend to be an over-reactor with big emotions that often feel overwhelming. But the truth is, as a follower of Christ, I have everything I need to boss my feelings around instead of letting them boss me. So do you, friend!
My weird dream was just the reminder I needed – my feelings lie to me, and your feelings deceive you, too, friend.
The fact that our emotions don’t always reflect reality is scientific.
Did you know your emotions can hijack the function of your brain? You can literally be deceived by your own feelings!
When we find ourselves in what we perceive to be a fight-or-flight situation, our internal “alarm system” essentially overrides our ability to think clearly. According to this article, your feelings deceive you most often when the powerful emotion of fear comes into play.
We’ve all experienced this truth for ourselves, even if a situation isn’t as dire as a fight-or-flight problem. We know our feelings, whether good or bad, tend to linger. Sometimes they linger long past their welcome!
Recall the last time you argued with your spouse or a loved one. Even after resolving the situation, often sadness follows. How about the last time you watched a scary movie; were you just a bit more jumpy than normal when turning out the lights for bed? Or think about the last time you enjoyed some really great quality time with people you care about – the good feelings linger, too, don’t they?
Just as with my dream above, we can easily get worked up or upset about things that aren’t even true! Your feelings deceive you more often than you realize.
That’s why the Bible cautions us to guard our hearts and to avoid trusting in our own wisdom and emotions.
Your feelings lie to you – that fact isn’t just scientific, it’s also biblical!
When God created man and woman, he created us in His image, which means we have a spirit, a mind/will, and also emotions.
Our emotions are an important part of life here on earth – they bring us joy and purpose, while also serving to protect us from danger and harm.Yet our feelings can be tricky to interpret, and even more dangerous to trust.
In our current culture, feelings have become king. We hear many phrases that encourage us to fully embrace our tricky emotions:
- “Follow your heart”
- “Do what makes you happy”
- “Find your best life”
- “Just be yourself”
The problem with elevating our feelings and emotions to the point of “absolute truth” is that our human bodies, and therefore emotions, are hopelessly flawed!
Ever since Adam and Eve chose to break the one rule they were given because they falsely believed they knew best, humankind has been prone wander from what’s best. We consistently choose our “truth” over our Creator God’s omniscient Truth!
The Bible makes our tendency to wander very clear:
The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. Genesis 6:5
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. Galatians 5:16-17 (NIV)
According to this scripture, by nature our flesh wants the opposite of what the Spirit wants. We cannot follow our own desires if we truly want to be Spirit-filled women of God!
To focus our minds on the human nature leads to death, but to focus our minds on the Spirit leads to life and peace. Romans 8:6 (NIV)
There is a way that appears to be right,
but in the end it leads to death.
Even in laughter the heart may ache,
and rejoicing may end in grief. Proverbs 14:12-23 (NIV)
Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered. Proverbs 28:26 (ESV)
Romans and Proverbs agree that what seems right to sinful man, leads to death. Proverbs also points out how finicky our emotions are, too. Trusting our emotions seems to be a risky business!
The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV)
Even Jeremiah agrees that our hearts are deceitful and difficult to understand.
My work-in-progress friend, don’t be deceived by your feelings. Don’t elevate emotions above the truth of God’s Word, even if the culture around you encourages you to do so!
Choose instead to give God’s Word the proper place of authority in your life, and you will reap all the benefits of a life lived according to the Word!
5 Christian Responses to Difficult Feelings and Emotions
If trusting in our own feelings and wisdom is really trusting in the flesh, then how should a Christian woman rightly respond?
Scripture encourages us to guard our hearts.
We must be careful what we take in, much like words of the childhood song tell us “Oh, be careful little eyes what you see..”
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)
The more we think on things above, rather than earthly things (including our own feelings), the more we will be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Philippians 4:8, Romans 12:2)! When your feelings deceive you, examine the diet of your life – what are you taking in that may be contributing to negative feelings?
2. When struggling with your feelings, ask God to search your heart and reveal the truth to you.
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)
God is faithful! He has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us. We must be aware that our perception is often tainted, but we must be equally aware that our God is greater.
3. Be aware of the Accuser and His power play for your feelings!
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. Revelation 12:10 (NIV)
Satan is often referred to as the accuser. He loves to prey on our emotions and make us feel condemned. He desires to make us slaves to perfectionism and the kind of religious living that focuses on the outward rather than the inward. He is the great deceiver, eager to find our weak places.
Scripture teaches us to resist the Devil (James 4:7), and Jesus showed us we can do so using the truth we find in scripture (Matthew 4:1-11)!
4. Rather than trusting in your own heart, emotions, and understanding, place your ultimate trust safely in God’s hands.
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)
Your feelings deceive you, but God has the power to make your way straight. All it requires, according to this scripture is submission to Him!
5. Let God’s truth boss your feelings around!
Remember if you are “in Christ,” you have been given a totally new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17)! Not only are you new in Him, but you also have direct access to His throne, meaning you can pray with full confidence! (Hebrews 4:16, 10:19) Don’t let your feelings deceive you into thinking life is too hard or too scary, or that you’re all alone.
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 NIV)
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)
The new spirit God gave us is not one of fear, friend! According to the verses above, we have all that we need to walk in the Spirit – power, love, and self-discipline. We also have a God who cares about even that which seems insignificant. He wants us to come to Him with our cares and anxieties!
Let me leave you with this final scripture prayer today:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (NIV)
The next time you struggle with difficult emotions, choose to respond in the Spirit rather than in the flesh. Look to the One who made you, the Author and Perfecter of your faith. Believe what His Word says is true!
Don’t let your feelings deceive you, friend.