by: Cris Corzine-McCloskey
I woke up grumpy the other day, which triggered a major mood chain. Lacking a legitimate reason for my moodiness, I began to feel ungrateful, which then triggered guilt. The guilt for my ingratitude brought fear. Maybe God was disappointed with me! Suddenly, I couldn’t feel His presence. Perhaps I was being punished! That convinced me I should call in sick. After all, nobody want’s to see a Christian therapist who’s being punished by God! Honestly, I started feeling a bit nutty. But did feeling nutty make me nutty?
Feelings can’t be trusted. They are notorious liars. I once saw a meme that read, “If you had a friend who lied to you as often as your feelings, you would kick them to the curb.” Truer words have never been spoken! Had I followed my feelings the other day, I would have stayed home with the covers over my head. That’s when feeling like a nut would have led to me acting like a nut, and that’s downright nutty! But it shows how feelings can become a reality in your life.
I do an exercise with my clients called “facts vs. feelings.” For instance, when I had it in my head God was mad at me, was it a fact or a feeling? Without my Bible, I may have believed I was in for a smiting. But I know it says in Hebrews, God will never leave me or fail me, and He won’t be angry at me ever again (13:5, 8:12). Truth assured me, God wasn’t mad or distant, so no matter how real it felt, I was wrong. Armed with the truth, I told my feelings to sit down and shut up, and I went to work. By noon, my emotions caught up with facts, and I had a great day.
Thoughts and feelings are in cahoots. They ping off each other. I don’t know what made me wake up grumpy, but feeling grumpy triggered the thought “ungrateful,” and away I went. I had to use truth to reset my brain, then use my mind to lead my mood. When someone lets their mood lead their brain, we call it emotional reasoning. If it feels real, it must be true. Yikes! That’s dangerous.
I’ve had people tell me they love their spouse but are no longer in love with them. Is this a fact or a feeling? The fact is, love is not a feeling, it’s a decision. It requires tenacity and sacrifice (1 Corinthians 13). Being “in love” is the feeling that juices a relationship. But feelings are fickle. If a person doesn’t lead those fickle feelings with truth, they can “follow their heart” straight to an affair. That’s why I never underestimate the power of people’s feelings. Left unchecked, they can destroy lives and ruin families. You must get in the habit of doing DIY facts vs. feelings checks.
When things in your head are wonky, write down what you are thinking and feeling. If what you put on paper isn’t something Jesus would say, it’s suspect. Here’s a cheat sheet. He won’t ever tell you that you are fat, stupid, unlovable, a failure, worthless, or guilty (He abolished guilt on the cross). He also won’t tell you He’s mad at you or leaving you. And He won’t send you someone new while you are married, or send someone married to you. I don’t know how people convince themselves of that, but they do. Only a feeling could make someone that delusional.
But not you. You will be wiser than that since I have given you everything you need to do your own DIY facts vs. feelings checks. Use this handy tool, and you may just save yourself a fortune in therapy and attorney fees. You’re welcome.