Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Can You Feel It?

You may not be fully aware of it, but if you are like most people, you live a lot from your feelings. All kinds of feelings -- good ones, bad ones, and conflicted ones. The "conflicted" feelings often cause us the most trouble. They come up when our minds and our hearts don't agree on something. For instance, when you think you "should" feel a certain way or do a certain thing, and your emotions take you in another direction. It is not only annoying when that happens, but you can easily spiral into all kinds of more uncomfortable feelings of self-judgement and guilt -- or, self-justified anger and growing resentment.


So, how exactly does that happen?

There is a simple formula for understanding this, and it's not just psycho-babble. It's been lab-tested and has proven true in my own life, over-and-over again. It goes like this:
  • Beliefs drive Thoughts.  
  • Thoughts drive Feelings.
  • Feelings drive Behavior.
  • Behavior drives ... well, the Quality of your Life. 


Simple, right? Not so fast... 

Some of those beliefs that drive our thoughts live so deeply within us -- in our sub-conscious minds -- that we cannot easily access them, let alone change them. It's not impossible, though -- just not terribly easy sometimes. And to further complicate things, when we finally identify a troubling "lie" or "limiting belief" we discover that it isn't even our own! We were given that toxic message by someone else in our lives at an early age when our minds really "ink in" information (typically, before age five).

For the moment, though, let's stay a little closer to the surface and cultivate some "self-awareness" that this process is running in our lives, and tackle the more accessible changes we can make to live a little more joyfully and peacefully. And toward that end, we will stick with the topic of loving God in a way that actually affects the quality of our lives --  for the better!

Look fearlessly at what you really believe about God: Are you just grateful and hopeful? Or, do you experience a deep, passionate love for God? 

It may feel scary to go deeper with God because you're afraid that He will ask you to do something that you don't want to do. Or, He may ask you to change something in your life that you would prefer to hang on to -- like a habit or relationship that you don't feel strong enough to do without. (Ouch!)

Some of us were taught at an early age that God loves us enough to save us -- but not enough to let us live free and happy lives.  Oh no! We must strive relentlessly to be "clean and close" by behaving in a godly way at all times! And when we fail (of course), we try-and-try-again until we are often spiritually and emotionally exhausted, and ultimately depressed. Now, that is one bad belief. Who on earth could be happy with beliefs like that?

I confess, that I lived most of my Christian life in that mindset. Never really happy, always a little scared and insecure -- but worst of all, never even questioning that there might be a better way: A way that wasn't at all frightening and provided great inner peace and joy -- in spite of my circumstances.

First and foremost: Cultivate the TRUTH about God -- that He is  for you, and not against you!

Jesus came into this world to die for you and for me so that we don't have to be afraid anymore. Yes, we are "saved" when we die -- but we are also saved right now to LIVE! Through His sacrifice on the cross, we became righteous and forgiven. We are free to make mistakes, learn from them, and walk with Him -- unashamed because of His mercy, and confident in His unconditional love.  

"Knowing" is even better than feeling!

When you can believe with all of your heart, soul and mind that you are  safe in His love,  you will discover a "knowing" that is stronger than any changeable feeling. That is where a true faith-walk begins.

We all want to keep the good feelings, but they are not as reliable as unshakable knowledge. The more you can commit to the "knowing and trusting" component of your God-walk, the more you will sense the awareness of God's Presence in your life (that's the good feeling!).

The world says: "show me and I will believe".

God says: "Believe Me and I will Show You!"

The 'knowing and trusting' comes from spending  intentional  time with Him -- like you would any dear friend. Your relationship with God is the most important relationship you will ever have and it deserves time and attention. And it really is so very easy. 

As you begin to understand the truth of how much He loves you, you will yearn for time alone with Him. It will be the best part of your day. Read books and listen to music to reprogram your mind and heart to accept the truth of His love for you and release the lies that the enemy (Satan) would have you cling to.

Stop looking in all the wrong places.

God doesn't live in your feelings -- or any circumstance in your life. You may  enjoy  Him in those places at times, but He only  revealed  Himself in the person of Jesus Christ. Get to know Jesus and and you will know God. Realize that He is in all of your feelings and circumstances -- because He lives inside of you.  Run into His arms and be amazed!

"The hands that hold the world, are holding your heart..."*

Here are some helpful places to start:

Study Scripture:  Video series by Dr. Andrew Farley on 1 Peter "Safe Within His Love" 
Listen to music: "Nothing Like Your Love" by Hillsong United; "Drops in the Ocean" by Hawk Nelson; "Safe" by Phil Wickham*

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