How Are You Feeling, Carl?

    Anyway, so that’s what it says on my Facebook status bar. Presumably, I’m supposed to announce to all my “friends” who regularly check Fb how I’m feeling at that particular moment. Quite a few appear to do that with regularity, and occasionally I am one of them. Not a great question to ask a narcissist. Do we really need leading question prompts from Fb?  Especially, when a big issue for me is being self-absorbed.

    Just the word feelings reminds me of that miserable Morris Albert song from 1975. You know: “feelings, nothing more than feelings . . .feelings of love. . .tear drops running down my face.” Etc. It was around that time that feelings or emotions started their ascendency over thinking in popular culture. There was this move in psychotherapy about “listening” to one’s feelings and discounting “thinking” about our issues. It seemed to be a reaction to the over-intellectualization of analytical psychotherapy. It was an idea whose time had come. It was the fruit of post WWII existential thought and post-modern nihilism.

    Nihilists and post-modern intellectuals believe in nothing. Life is meaningless. There are no absolute truths. In a pointless universe governed by chance why bother to think at all once you’ve glimpsed the darkness down the rabbit hole of nihilism?  There is no point in deep thinking, and there is nothing to be gained in holding to the dictates of a philosophy, belief system or religious credo–particularly something as outmoded and draconian as the Ten Commandments Nevertheless, our feelings are important. They dictate what to do in any particular moment: “I feel like a latte.”or “I’m tired of you and I will seek a more satisfying relationship” or “I feel too depressed for church tonight.”  You get the picture. The ultimate expression of this in pop culture was the TV show Seinfeld–the show which proudly announced that it was “about nothing.”  In Seinfeld you had four desperate characters whose lives were governed by their immediate feelings–cravings for power, love, recognition, etc.–folks with no ethics, religion, higher power or belief system to manage their lives. Though I don’t watch for more than a minute or two, I gather that most current sitcoms portray the same ethos.

      A God-less pop culture dominated by whims tells us that our lives should be dictated by how we feel.  However, feelings are not the map–they are just indicators–signs, guideposts. They have limited value as truth detectors. Our feelings lie to us because they are often accompanied by a little voice in our thoughts–the voice of the enemy. It’s the voice that says, “Nobody likes you” and so you feel depressed or abandoned. It is the voice that says, “Be afraid, be very afraid” and so, feeling anxious, we don’t take what we know to be the right path. It’s the voice says, “You’re a sinner and God hates sinners”–and so you feel ashamed and unworthy even tho you know that Jesus died so that you might live. 

    We must continually remind ourselves that our feelings are just indicators. They are not the truth. As often as not they lie to us. Though often confusing and seemingly contradictory, I know that truth is found in Scripture, and I know if I’m diligent that the Holy Spirit will illuminate what I need to know–both for today and ultimately. So don’t be a slave to your feelings, be a slave to the truth, the Word that forever sets you free.

    I think in scripture feelings are represented by the heart–as in: “The heart is deceitful in all things and desperately wicked. Who can know it.” (Jer. 17:9)  He didn’t say “In the beginning were feelings, and the feelings were with God–and feelings were God.”–now did He? He said it was the Word. The word was the logos, logic–the organizing principle of the universe, the Spirit of truth–and the word was a Person.

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About diospsytrek

I am a licensed mental health counselor in Florida. I am also the author of four books. The books have to do with coping with depression and other mood disorders, and the nexus of psychological problems and spiritual warfare.
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One Response to How Are You Feeling, Carl?

  1. j-rust says:

    this is great carl- i just was talking with molly this morning about ‘doing what we know is right, rather than what we feel like doing.’ She was reading from the sermon on the mount about treating others how you would want to be treated ‘for this sums up the law and the prophets’. I explained to her that all that God called us to do in the 10 commandments is covered if we choose to love God and others above ourselves; what we feel like doing. I really appreciate your admonition to find truth in the Word rather than our feelings or even someone else’s for that matter. Without the truth of Christ to reveal to us who we trully are, we are lost!!

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