Test Them Feelings and Emotions

Miss Teenage America 1972 Mary Fitzpatrick & first runnerup, Mary A. Grabavoy.

Feelings and emotions! We all have them. I must stress I am not bashing feelings and emotions at all! They are truly a gift from God, and are part of what makes us human. They are amazing- euphoria, love, compassion. They can also be informative and life-saving- fear when a child runs into the street, anger at victimization. Especially with the tragic bombing at the Boston Marathon this week, we’ve all (rightly) had grievous feelings.

This text means a lot to me in the context of my own journey with feelings sometimes leading me astray. I’ll never forget my “revelation” at L’Abri: just because I feel something, doesn’t mean I need to indulge in the feelings (listening to sad music, going on long, sombre walks). God crafted me, particularly, to lean a bit more into my feelings. But emotions need to be tested according to truth, just as our intellect needs to be tested. And Truth being Scripture, the Word of God, as revealed to us by the Holy Spirit.

This quote is from Running Scared. I’m slowly working my way through this book. Not because of the content, rather because I want to savor it! It’s like a piece of chocolate lava cake that you never want to end, so you keep eating small slivers off it to make it last longer. I appreciate Ed Welch’s description of how this “testing” plays out for the Christian:

“We tend to judge God’s words by our own feelings and sensory observations. If we feel orphaned, we believe we are orphaned. If we feel a sense of impending doom, the worst will in fact happen. If we are told that God reigns, but everything seems to be in chaos, we twist God’s revelation about himself to fit our understanding of the data. Scripture, however, reveals the things we can’t see with the naked eye, and God’s self-revelation is a higher authority than our feelings. When our feelings conflict with God’s communication, we must side with God’s interpretation. Any other decision puts us above God, which we already know isn’t true because fear reminds us of our own puniness. We certainly are not gods!”

Bam. That was a yummy sliver of chocolate lava.

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8 thoughts on “Test Them Feelings and Emotions

  1. Ha ha! Now you’ve got me hungry for chocolate lava cake.

    But seriously, what an amazing passage. And it’s an important reminder for me, too, that while God gave me instincts and He uses those instincts to guide me, I’m human, so even my instincts can be faulty. And ultimately, in a battle between my instincts (or feelings) and revelation through scripture, the latter always wins. 100%.

    I can see why you are savoring this book. There’s so much packed into even one paragraph. That Ed Welch…. So thankful that you’ve introduced him to us through these teachings and texts you’re sharing.

    1. I’m realizing I never replied to this comment, and I’m trying to get to all my comments, eventually…like you do! 😀 Yes, that Ed Welch. He’s spot on here. Emotions are especially tricky, because they can feel so strong sometimes, and Scripture sometimes seems far away. But the Spirit has been training me. I’m onto myself now, and know that I’ve got to go to the Word, I’ve got to bring those feelings to my Maker.

      Lord, keep helping us with this, please. 🙂

  2. What a visual image of extreme facial expressions and a sweet imaginary image of the book being like chocolate lava cake! Such a practical book about how to weigh the values of our emotions versus the truth of scripture. I need to practice choosing God’s interpretation on a daily basis. It would keep me more grounded and free from the power of scary, expansive, and other destructive emotions.

    Please bring this delicious “dessert” with you next time we’re together!

    1. I’m with you, Mama! This is both our daily duty, but it’s God’s committed work too (100% us and 100% God)! As for the book, I don’t think I ever finished it…ah, that’s been the fate of too many good books lately. But commenting again on this post has brought it to mind again, and it’s going higher up in my queue! After seminary, I know I’ll have all the time in the world to read again, right?? 😉

      1. Haha…maybe more time to read, but there are always more books and more adventures. Do bring it with you next time you come…I’d like to at least check out the table of contents!!

  3. I can’t speak to winning or losing Miss America , but I can say that my emotions seem to be stronger at this time in my life. Thanks for the reminder. It sounds so simple, but is an ongoing struggle for me, even more often than daily.

    1. Thanks for your honesty, Henry! Me too. My emotions often seem to be in the “Supersize” form. And though they bring a lot of blessing, at times they can bring a lot of chaos. Let’s lean into the only One who can calm the storm.

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