One of God’s greatest gifts to us is the mundane. Yeah, I know. How can that be a gift?
I went to my son’s high school graduation last night and one of the boys in his class has a father in hospice. A man in his 50’s is battling the last stages of brain cancer. This boy’s mother is a woman of strong faith and is being a rock for her son. Despite her husband’s impending death life goes on. The world hasn’t stopped because someone is sick and dying.
This boy’s mother still has laundry to do, bills to pay, a graduation party to organize, meals to cook, and dishes to clean. She has the everyday of life to propel her forward. She is most likely numb to what is going on in her everyday life because the pain and grief that surrounds her is overwhelming, but the mundane things of life are a gift to her. They keep her focused on moving ahead.
When the trials of life come we can become depressed. Depression keeps us from moving forward. It keeps us stuck where we are and says stop, sit down, and think a while. Depression keeps us focused on our feelings and circumstances and makes excuses for why we can’t get things done. Depression prevents us from acting which is the very thing we need to do to get through rough days.
If we focus only on the feelings of the moment we will become paralyzed. We must find a way to keep getting all the stuff in our life done. One way to do that is to realize that God did not mean for us to live a feeling based life. He gave us the ability to make decisions and expects us to operate that way and to maintain control of our feelings. Perhaps one of the hardest things to do during difficult times, but if we can make a choice to act despite feelings we will navigate the rough road ahead.
Understanding our feelings and their place in our lives can help us manage them and act despite them (Lloyd-Jones, 1965).
- Our feelings often take a central position in our lives.
- We should be moved by our feelings, but not controlled by them.
- We should actively engage our mind as well our feelings.
- We cannot create feelings, or emotions.
- Feelings are variable.
- Feelings are influenced by our personality, physical conditions, culture, and upbringing.
- Feelings were given to us by God, but He expects us to keep them in their place.
What can we do?
To be able to properly manage our feelings during times of suffering and to be able to take actions that will move us forward we can do the following:
- Examine ourselves. We must look at how prominent are feelings are, what the state of our heart is, and to ensure that we are engaging our mind. Thinking through things, making a choice to believe God’s Word over our feelings, and making choices to act despite our feelings. Depression will never ask you to move forward, or to take action.
- We are saved by believing, not feeling. Choose to trust God, believe Him and you will be on your way to controlling your feelings. Not getting rid of them, but controlling them. I am a feeling addict. I understand that what I am saying is hard. I have to act when my feelings tell me not to. I have to choose to believe when I feel far from God.
- Talk to yourself. If we let our feelings go wild then they will rule us. We must get them into submission. Tell yourself. I will not be overcome by worry. I am seeking to please and follow God. Then get up go do the dishes, crying if you must, but doing. Acting. I feel low, but will not let that feeling rule me. I am making a choice to believe in God today, believe in His promises, and will act despite how I feel. I seek God. Tell yourself these things over and over and you will be able to act, doing the mundane things of life, and you will move forward.
- Go to Him. What a cliché answer. Go to God, but how many times do we fail to do this and then wonder why our lives are in chaos. Go to God and seek Him with all your might and there you will find a way to control your feelings and engage in today. Do not concern yourself with looking religious, or right. Concern yourself with pouring your heart out to God. Do this over and over and you will control your feelings and find the peace that surpasses all understanding. During hard times you must do this minute by minute, hour by hour, and day by day. Don’t go if you choose to, but you will sacrifice your peace of mind and your feelings will rule.
During the hardest times of my life when I wanted to quit there were always things around the house I had to do. During times of severe depression I stopped doing those things and let my feelings run wild. I also managed to mire myself in a deep pit of black tar that I could barely escape. When I started going to God and started making a choice to act versus sit and feel then my life started to change. The difficult situation didn’t end, but the muck that I was living in did. God shines brightest in the dark places of our lives. He has also provided us with the mundane things of life as a blessing to keep moving us forward.
We can do this thing! We REALLY can!