Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings...

"Remember: feelings are indicators, not dictators. They can indicate where your heart is in the moment but that doesn’t mean they have the right to boss you around. You are more than the sum total of your feelings!" Lysa TerKeurst, "Unglued"
Feelings. We all have them. Some of us are distracted by them. Some of us avoid them. Some of us are ruled by them. Some of us deny them. Science tries to define them as chemical reactions, but faith informs us that there is more. Left alone, feelings can wreak havoc. Feelings are, after all, fickle. They come and go, with science contributing some truth into the picture of how they work. Kept in balance with reason and faith, feelings can prove to be a valuable tool.

In growing into motherhood, there are many feelings I had never anticipated experiencing...and many I didn't know existed inside me. Rage, despair, utter joy, complete detachment, inexplicable attachment...they are all brimming beneath the surface just waiting to break loose. I did not expect that I would not love every.last.moment with my child. I did not expect that there would be days I felt like throwing in the towel. I did not expect someone so small to be so incredibly profound. I did not expect such a little soul to convict my heart and be able to bring me to my knees in repentance and prayer. I did not expect my hormones to rage a war on my sanity for such a long time after giving birth, or for my cycle to never return to what I knew. I did not expect that I would tire of being touched, even by those I love the most. I did not expect that I would question my ability to be an adequate mother, let alone a good one. That was always a given in my mind before I became one. I did not expect that my patience, fortitude, sanity and confidence would be tested in such extreme ways. I did not expect the exhilaration that comes from winning one of those tests. I did not expect the visceral joy of seeing my children reach different milestones. 

In good and in bad ways, there was so much I did not expect. There was so much that no person can teach you to anticipate. Each experience is different, not only between people, but between children. I've come to understand that you simply cannot be prepared. You can make preparations, but you will never be prepared for the roller coaster ride. Unfortunately, I have motion sickness, so the experience can be a little dizzying. 

Maturing in faith and in motherhood, I realize that I will not always enjoy every little task or always feel like doing what needs to be done. In fact, there are many things I must do that I would rather not. Yet they must get done. Mouths must get fed and more than once a day. Clothes must get cleaned and eventually put away. Bodies and homes must be cleaned. These are not glamorous nor my strength or first inclination, but with each wipe, each stir, each fold love spills out if I let go of my feelings and remember those faces...and the One face. His face. His Spirit that stirs up in each of those little (and not-so-little) people under this roof. Even when I've tired of picking up the strewn about toys, the shrill tantrum, the whine with no cheese, the Spirit remains. Even when the thought of putting together one more puzzle, building one more tower or reading one more book makes me want to run under the covers where I would rather be, the Spirit remains. My feelings will come and go, but His Spirit remains embedded in the hearts of these people sharing this life of mine. His promise remains. His Word remains. Love remains.

My feelings? They are fickle. God's promise? Eternal. That sets me free from being ruled by my feelings alone, however natural, however fleeting. His Word, His Spirit, His Love, His Promise - these are the compass by which I must navigate the feelings that too often begin to direct my path. 

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures 
My chains are gone
I've been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace

Amazing Grace, Chris Tomlin

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