Saying No to Feelings


Through this whole Heart of a Woman study the Lord is having me think about focus and perspective. It’s basically all I have been writing about. And my flesh, even in this moment, wants me to feel shame and guilt because we’re going on lesson eight now and I’m still talking about and failing at the same thing that the Lord opened my eyes to even before this study began. And I’m supposed to be repenting, and I’m not. You should get this by now; you’re a failure; God must be so annoyed with you; it’s very simple and you’re letting Him down. The feelings and thoughts swirl in my mind, but again, back to focus, my eyes must be on who my God is, not who my flesh is feeling He is. It’s hard to say no to my flesh. It’s hard to say no to my feelings.

The day of our study getting together this past week a co-worker and I were talking. She was telling me about being in labor with her second child and how she was laboring naturally as long as she could before getting an epidural. She said some things about being in labor and feeling the pain without an epidural that were so interesting to me. She said, “It’s really all about focus. You’ve got to focus on anything other than the pain.” She also talked about how she was laboring one centimeter at a time. She wasn’t thinking, “I’ve got to get to ten centimeters, and I’m only at one,” she was thinking, “Okay let me just get to two centimeters.” I found that story so interesting and such an analogy for how I’m supposed to focus on things throughout my day. I’ve got to focus on the Lord over the bad circumstance, over the exhaustion, over things just not going my way.

I then came to Bible study that night to hear Laurie share an experience, that while completely different from being in labor, was oddly similar at the same time. She explained about a commitment she had made to the Lord to work out through swimming. Through some sad circumstances that had been going on around her, she was physically and mentally exhausted and had nothing in her to get to that pool to keep the commitment she had made. She explained, in a very detailed way each step she took by God’s grace in order to keep her commitment, though everything in her flesh was telling her she didn’t need to go swim. Some correlations to the labor story were that her focus wasn’t on herself and the utter pain she was feeling, she had to continually, step by step, say no to her feelings of fatigue and lack of desire in general and look to the Lord and her love for the Lord and her need for the Lord in order to keep this commitment. She wasn’t looking at this big commitment as one whole. She wasn’t looking from inside her car in the parking lot and thinking, “I have to get to that pool.” She was thinking, “I just need to get out of the car and walk to the door. Help me, Lord.” Then once she was through the door, “I just need to get to the locker room,” etc. etc. until she was swimming in the pool, all one step at a time and focused.

By God’s grace, Laurie said no to her flesh. She said no to her feelings. She kept her commitment and swam and repented of her own desires. In my co-worker’s story, she said no to her feelings of pain with a focus on wanting to labor naturally.

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, no on things that are on earth” (Col. 3:1-2).

If things don’t go my way, none of my “dreams” come true, none of my expectations come to fruition, or I lose “everything” I have here on this earth, my feelings would be sad, angry, questioning, apathetic, and ungrateful, but by God’s grace I could say no to my feelings. I could say no to my flesh by grace through faith. My feelings don’t have to dictate my response to anything because my focus could be on the truth instead. My focus could be on things above, where Christ is.

“Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways” (Psa. 119:36-37).

I didn’t see how little I say no to my flesh and my feelings until yesterday. If I want to hit the snooze button and sleep a little bit longer before my quiet time, it’s pretty easy to justify that I just need more sleep. If I wanted that second glass of lemonade, even though I know it’s filled with sugar that’s not good for me or the baby inside me it’s pretty easy to justify it by saying, “Oh I’m pregnant and I won’t do this every day, just this one time.” If I want to pick at my finger nails or my lips (I know, so weird, but one of my things, ha!) and just let my mind go off to I don’t even know what type of distraction, even though it drives my husband crazy, it’s easy to justify it and say it’s a habit I’ve always had and I can’t break it. My heart and my mind are not on the Lord’s testimonies, my mind and heart are focused on what I want, what will make me feel good, and I look at all of those worthless things throughout my day instead of the One who is worthy.

It’s hard to say no to my flesh. It’s hard to say no to my feelings. I know by God’s grace, however, that I can repent one step at a time throughout my days and my focus can be on the only One who will ever be worth looking to. I know this is true for you too. I tell you all of this because I know this is truth, but I haven’t been living the truth. If you feel discouraged, I want you to be encouraged by hearing me say, “Me too.” It’s hard to be faced with your sin week after week, it’s tough to look intently at your heart, and it’s hard to go step by step into saying no to something your flesh really wants. It’s a lot easier to just go through the motions of our days. But let’s turn our eyes from these worthless things of earth and fix our focus above, where Christ is, where our TRUE LIFE is, and trust that his grace is sufficient.

Planted for His Glory

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