FEELINGS: WARNING SIGNALS THAT NEED A CHECK

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Feelings are indicators of something lying beneath the surface of our lives that needs to be checked out before we follow their lead. Feelings can be good or bad, but it matters not, they provide signals or warning signs for us to see what is causing them before we let them determine our thoughts and actions. Why do I say this? A Biblical wisdom saying got me thinking about it. “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12). This could apply to many things, for example, to our philosophy for living, or to religious observances, or to feelings. If we substitute the word feeling for the word way, the verse would read, “There is a feeling that seems right to a person, but its end is the way of death.”

We cannot let fear control everything we do.

I am not suggesting that feelings are wrong. All I am saying is that any feeling we have should prompt us to see what is behind it, and if the feeling has a good cause, follow it, but if the feeling has a questionable cause, then proceed with caution, or not at all. For example, the feeling of fear can be good or bad. If it is a warning of danger, then follow it and act to escape the danger. If it is a feeling prohibiting us from doing something that needs doing, like seeking help for a serious illness, then it hinders right living and should not be listened to. There are many occasions in the Bible where we are told not to fear because the basis of our fear prevents a good or right action. We cannot let fear control everything we do.

Seemingly, many people let feelings run their lives. Take love for example. We can feel good when we are loved and paid attention to. Who doesn’t like the feeling of love and acceptance?

Seemingly, many people let feelings run their lives. Take love for example. We can feel good when we are loved and paid attention to. Who doesn’t like the feeling of love and acceptance? Is not love a good feeling? But wait. There are underlying things to be examined. Do we really know what love is? Is it more than just a feeling? What are the motives of the person loving me? Do they accept me and love me because they really care about me, or are they doing it because they want or need something from me? Am I so needy for love that I am willing to accept anyone who comes along who accepts me and is nice to me? I know a number of people who have fallen in love because of the need to be loved, but their lover ended up taking advantage of them, breaking their heart, or ruining their life. Granted, love feelings may be genuine, and perhaps we never can be 100% sure about it, but the feeling of love at least deserves some serious questions before letting those feelings control what we do.

Bad feelings can also be allowed to control our lives. Such feelings have underlying causes that need to be examined to prevent a life of ruin and unhappiness.

Bad feelings can also be allowed to control our lives. Such feelings have underlying causes that need to be examined to prevent a life of ruin and unhappiness. For example, a cause for bad feelings could be a failed relationship. Failed relationships, whether from parents, friends, or lovers, can lead to feelings such as rejection, loneliness, depression, anger, mistrust of future relationships, shame and worthlessness, or not wanting to live any more. Rather than letting these kinds of feelings control our lives, thinking we are imprisoned by them forevermore, we need to see them as warnings to check out the causes and find the solutions for overcoming them.

The thing that seems right about bad feelings, and that makes us sometimes suffer them, is that we feel we deserve them because we have done wrong or we are a bad person. That is not true. We do not have to accept such feelings and let them destroy us. They are not true because, no matter who we are, or what we have done, there is a God, our Creator, who loves and values us greatly. He has put his goodness into every one of us and we are worth being loved, forgiven, and healed so that we feel accepted by him and enabled to feel good again. There may be a way that seems right to a person, and its end is the way of death. But there is also a way that is right, and its end is the way of life. And that life feels good because it is based on the God who is good.

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Jay Ashbaucher
Jay Ashbaucher is a native of Northwest Ohio and is currently a retired pastor and published author. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and has been a pastor and teacher in Montana for over 44 years. Jay taught grief classes in a hospital setting, and worked for twenty years as a fifth-step counselor and lecturer in an alcoholic-drug treatment center getting to know the hearts of people struggling to get well. While pastoring in Montana, he had enjoyed racquetball, hunting, fishing, and traveling the Big Sky State. Now living in Southeast Michigan, Jay enjoys his family, reading, hiking, golf, time with friends, and time with his fun-to-be-with wife. They have two happily married children and seven grandchildren.