by Alan Bailey
It’s an inevitable question with TV interviewers. ‘How did you feel when you realized your parachute wouldn’t open?’ ‘How did you feel when you heard that all your money had been ripped off you?’ ‘How did you feel when you lost the match?’
My own feeling at that point is sympathy for the poor souls who have been through some sort of trauma and who are asked a pretty silly question about their feelings.
It’s the age
The world around us seems to live in the area of feelings. The preface ‘I feel… or ‘I felt…’ is so common. Sometimes it means ‘I think…’ But then, I’m not sure that thinking is all that popular these days.
We live by what our feelings tell us too much of the time. They tell us whether to like another person or not; whether to go out or to stay at home; whether to work hard or to do nothing. Also, they dictate to us whether to be happy or depressed, to be enthusiastic or dull. There may be some duty to perform, some promise to keep. Will it be done? It all depends on how we feel.
It gets serious
Many of the great issues of life receive the same treatment. Have you ever brought up a heavy subject in conversation to hear the immediate response, ‘Well, I feel…’ So another matter is dealt with on the level of feelings — perhaps dismissed without thought and investigation. Feelings rule, OK?
How pathetic lives like this can become. Because I feel crabby I will take it out on those around me. As I feel a bit down this morning I will take a pill to pep me up. Now I am a bit tense so I will have Valium. I feel a bit sad so I will go to town and buy myself something new. It can be a ceaseless merry-go-round, while steadiness and stability are virtually unknown.
We all have them
Without question feelings have a great deal to do with the way all of us live and respond to our circumstances. A dull day can make us feel dull. A bright day can do the opposite. Sure, feelings are a part of what we are and can’t be ignored, no matter how hard we try.
But we also have minds to exercise. With them we size up situations, we sift evidence, we weigh things in the balances. Strength of mind seems necessary to make sure feelings don’t overwhelm us. Often our hearts (our feelings) and our heads (the facts) are at cross purposes. One wants to contradict the other.
Finding a key
Feelings can mislead us into believing all kinds of things. We can feel carefree and light-hearted (perhaps helped by a dose of alcohol) when things are not good at all. When people are down, it’s amazing just how much untruth they are embracing, almost unwittingly. They feel useless or worthless when the truth is they are neither.
But there is a way ahead. If we have the facts right about who we are, why we are here and where we are going, it makes all the difference. If God becomes the centre of our thinking, and His Word our reference book, a new stability emerges. Facts can overrule feelings. Faith and optimism have a base on which to stand. Lives can be transformed. We were meant to live as whole persons. It can happen if we turn our lives over to the Lordship of Christ. He is the key to wisdom and the only Saviour.