Redeeming Feelings

Hello! Thanks for stopping by- been a while since I posted anything, but here’s something that’s been on my heart for some time now, and I’ve finally found the time to get it all down in a new post.

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Today, I would like to talk about something that is so shrouded in secrecy and locked up so tight within the scary self-reflections of the average girl, that this discussion typically requires passcodes, fingerprints, and a Level A clearance to access. There are towers and dragons and blood oaths, background checks, pinky-promises, and hushed tones. I’m talking about the stuff that girls only share with their closest, most trustworthy companions. However, for this post, I gathered up the passwords, stole the fingerprints (you don’t even want to know), and I climbed past my fear of heights to scale those towers and slay the dragon so that we could dive in for an insider’s look at the age-old subject of FEELINGS.

In our world today, girls are told to be confident and strong, rolling with the punches of life, taking on the world, flexing our Rosie the Riveter biceps to face adversity.  While not necessarily a bad message- especially when rooted in the confidence and strength we can have as daughters of the King of the universe- this is often taken to an extreme that tries to squelch emotion. Girly feelings are seen as naïve and juvenile, and so they are often hidden in shame, especially as you age. This is a topic that I’ve often grappled with in my 20’s and I don’t see any signs of relief. The truth is, that even with maturity, “stupid girly feelings” seem to stick around. For those of us who are single, these battles tend to intensify when you befriend an available guy who seems to have the rare trifecta: godliness (loves Jesus more than his mom), good-looks (in the eye of the beholder), and guts (because, let’s be honest, without this last one, there will be no dates!).  If any readers come across a magic potion that can remedy this problem, by all means, please share it! It would sure save a lot of time, energy, and palm-to-forehead moments. It would also rid of that achy feeling of potential rejection, and prevent a lot of speech from coming out in something that barely resembles English.  But until that day comes, we are left to sort through the storms and elation of emotions. This often feels like a losing battle since emotion is known to throw a  colorful, smoky rave in our frontal cortex and cloud better judgment.

So, what’s a girl to do? Let’s start by talking about the ways we typically [wrongly] deal with feelings, and then we will discuss some alternate options. My main point for this post will be to prove that any situational trial (yes, even annoying girly feelings) can be redeemed and used for maturity, sanctification, and a closer walk with Jesus. This post can apply to emotional trials in general, but I will be focusing on a fairly universal variety that manifests itself in longing for male companionship leading to a future marriage.

…The Spiral…

While each of God’s daughters has been uniquely created and placed in their time and sphere, I can bet that most of us are all too familiar with the emotional rollercoaster that comes with noticing a brother in Christ who meets a lot of the criteria on the “list” we keep in the top drawer of our nightstand (no, I haven’t been snooping around your house).  Spiritual leader? Check! Shares my sense of humor? Check! Taller than me, adventurous, active in ministry? Check, check, check! Too often, however, our feelings don’t wait for the green light of revealed mutual interest before spinning into overdrive.  All it takes is one encounter, one conversation, or even just one discussion with someone else about said gentleman for our inner calendar to start putting dates down for the next, well, earth-life. We are RIDICULOUS, are we not? There, I said it. We ALL have crazy potential- just give us the right set of circumstances. Oh, if only the crazy train stopped there and took a fast pass back to the land of sensibility.

Say, perhaps, that this young man does not show interest immediately. Or maybe you cannot figure out if you are in the “friend zone” (whatever that means). Every detail of every conversation is sorted out with a microscope internally or with close friends, and your feelings are there, cheering you on to assume the absolute extreme about everything. “He said your friendship means a LOT to him? Do I hear wedding bells?” or  “He was, without a doubt, looking at you from across the room just now. He’s probably contemplating what your children will look like.” Ok, so maybe they aren’t always that outlandish, but feelings rarely play the devil’s advocate to steady a sinking ship.

In my experience, there is typically a stretch of time where, despite no concrete reveal of any kind of pursuit by said gentleman, your feelings continue and even increase as you get to know him. This is where a lot of mistakes get made. When left with unrelenting, unmet desires for long enough, we begin to doubt God’s goodness. We complain and grumble and BEG our Father to take the feelings away. When that doesn’t happen, we employ some “Christian” mind tricks. We attempt to distract ourselves with life and ministry, hoping that with enough exhaustion and occupation, we won’t have time to even think about how nice our first name sounds with his last.  Or we try really hard to convince ourselves that he is “just” a brother in Christ, nothing more. Then, after a time of realizing that asserting a truthful title does not take away his great qualities that attracted us to him in the first place, we become frustrated and go into attack mode. The spiral downward continues as we begin to demonize our feelings and the guy. We despise his good traits and actions, and look for a mistake or fault that could help us overcome our admiration. Or, worse, we attack ourselves and wonder what is making us unworthy of his attention. Lots and lots of ugly!

…A Better Way…

Have I struck a chord or two? In the spirit of vulnerability, I am guilty of all the above multiple times over.  Oh the poor souls that have been unknowingly the subject of battles within the walls of my mind and heart, not realizing the true effect of their presence in my life or the dissection of each word out of their mouth! I think we can all agree that this mode of operation is not getting us anywhere. It only leaves us broken and quite frankly, unloving.  Something needs to change, and it has nothing to do with giving the right signals or how picky the dwindling crowd of single, godly men may have become. It has everything to do with our perspective.

God created feelings. Emotions go way back to Genesis and eternity past. Adam and Eve were created with the capacity to have more than a sense of duty in their communion with one another. Creator God, as a reflection of the loving relationship within the Trinity, gave mankind the capacity to feel and appreciate. In the book of John, we see the use of the Greek word, Phileo, which according to biblestudytools.com, means: “to approve of, to like, sanction, to treat affectionately or kindly, to welcome or befriend; to show signs of love (in fact, it sometimes refers to kissing).” In John 16:27, Jesus says, “For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God,” and in John 5:20, He says “For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing.” The word phileo is used in these verses to indicate the type of affection God the Father has for His Son, Jesus, and the love that God has for us in addition to the love that we have for the Son.  Another Greek word for love, Agape, is defined as “brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence” and is used more often in the New Testament to refer not just to love within the Trinity (John 15:10;17:26, and many other places), God’s love for us in salvation (seen in Romans 5:8), and love between people (seen in the famous 1 Corinthians 13 passage).  In Ephesians 5:25, husbands are told to “agape” their wives as Christ loved the church.  So feelings of affection are not a bad thing in and of themselves, and are in fact encouraged in many different types of God-ordained relationships within a Believer’s life.

Given that the capacity to feel affection is not inherently sinful, then we need to figure out where the disconnect is in acting it out. I am going to offer a solution that has tremendously helped me as a single lady sorting through the minefield of my emotions. In talking with other sisters struggling with the same issues, I arrived at the conclusion that we need to stop treating girly feelings any differently than other types of trials. Like the thorn in the flesh that God did not take from Paul, but used it to humble him (2 Corinthians 12:7), like the span of time Jesus waited before bringing Lazarus to life in John 11, or like the trials faced by Ruth on her way to the bloodline of Christ. God allows trials, however trivial they may sound, and has a purpose for them. So our primary question when dealing with girly feelings shouldn’t be how can I survive this, but how can I play a part in redeeming this? How can I allow God to work in and through me to come out on the other side a little more sanctified, no matter how long the wave of emotion lasts? How can I fight against making a good thing a sin thing when it threatens to make me less effective for the Kingdom? I made a list recently on how I want to purpose to deal with emotions associated with wanting more than friendship with a brother in Christ. I hope it’s helpful, should you be fighting the same fight.

From now on, I choose to…

  1. Allow the Spirit to work in me to redeem the feelings
  2. Use the ache as a way to draw near to Christ
  3. Thank God for creating feelings, and cling to Him in fighting against their misuse in my heart
  4. Long for my heavenly home, where ultimate longing is forever satisfied
  5. Repent of ill-feelings toward a brother in Christ (since that kind is definitely as a result of sin and not God-given)
  6. Encourage brothers in Christ for their good qualities
  7. Use circumstances (yes, even unmet desires) to enliven my life and ministry
  8. Understand that Sanctification is a PROCESS and God-given battles will only serve to HELP, not HURT on this tough, yet glorious road
  9. Tell a sister or 2 about them for accountability in navigating the emotions, but not too many others. (As a side note, I have found that sharing about an interest in a guy with too many friends gives way too much power to my feelings. Too much“Girl talk” can be unconstructive.)
  10. Pray with an older sister in Christ (that always makes me feel better, no matter what the situation!)
  11. Understand that Pride in your heart will be revealed and it will be difficult, but take heart, because Christ has overcome the world!
  12. Don’t be ASHAMED of the feelings and encourage other sisters to not be ashamed either.

As always, thanks for stopping in! I pray that you single ladies out there will join me in fighting for truth as we allow God to unfold His plan for us in His perfect timing!

All my heart,

Rachelle

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4 thoughts on “Redeeming Feelings

  1. Excellent post, yet again, Dear Niece!!! I would add to that list “take every thought captive to obey Christ!.” 2 Cor. 10:5. I love your insights (and humor!!). Thank you for allowing God to use you and your circumstances for the glory of God and his Kingdom! Amen.

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    • Hello Imay! Good question. The scenario I’m referring to has happened a few times in my 20’s, so I wasn’t necessarily referring to a specific one, but for the time being, the Lord has seen fit to keep me dateless and single. If you haven’t had a chance yet, read up on my earlier 6 week series on singleness for a more detailed rendition of my story, especially the one titled “Door Number 3” 🙂

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