I can say with 100% confidence that we have all made at least one decision based on feelings. I am also just as confident that some of those decisions, just like my own, ended badly. And with the passing of time, it was discovered that the feelings used to make the decision were wrong.
A motto that I have lived by for many years and that was birthed out of a rash of wrong decisions is “feelings are not fact.” It has become some of the best advice that I give myself. It really is a great rule of thumb for all of us to live by. However, I have recently wondered what happens when feelings are fact. How should one react when the way you have been feeling is confirmed to be a fact?
It is an interesting question and one that I had not really considered until recently. It is so easy to say to yourself “Oh well it doesn’t matter” when something that you had been feeling is really the truth, but what if you have to see that person every day at work or every week at church? How do you react? Do you ignore them or do you confront them? How do you handle the feelings and emotions that arise from the realization that you have been rejected? It was not just enough to seek the question in my flesh, I wanted God to show me what He expected from me.
The bible, our ultimate guide, says in Matthew 5:44 “love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you.” Wow, the bible is clear but the walking it out is where the problem can arise.
No matter how long we live on this earth, all of us will encounter the realization that what we were feeling about a person or situation was accurate. It is great when the feeling is confirmed for the good, i.e. someone you felt liked you really does. However, the issue arises when what you thought, that you did not want to believe, is actually true. The spouse you believed was cheating on you really was or the coworker you felt couldn’t stand you really can’t. We know how God’s word tell us to react, but how do we walk it out.
The first step is to accept the reality of the situation. Allow yourself to be anger or upset. You might even need to cry. Tears can be healing, even Jesus wept (John 11:35). No one is inside your body and therefore they can’t say how you should or should not react. I remember when it was announced that our pastor had fallen into sin, many where hurt and needed to talk about what they had heard. Yet time and time again I would hear people say “shhh we don’t need to discuss this.” Now I am not advocating gossiping or tearing down a brother or sister because the reality is “there but by the grace of God go I”(1 Corth. 15:10). However, we need to be able to process our pain and for some they need to talk it out. If we ignore or hold onto our pain in time it is going to come out in a destructive way.
Once we have come to turns with the reality and have allowed the shock and initial pain to be addressed, the healing process can begin. How long this takes is between you and God. Realizing that your coworker can’t stand the sight of you, for some, could be a rejection that you can shake off quickly. But know, for others it could take longer. Your reaction to that fact could be an insight into something deeper. You might have a spirit of rejection that you have allowed to take hold of you because of past rejections and your unwillingness to forgive. If we will give all of our pain, big and small, to God He will walk us through it. But know that if you hold onto the little pain, you will open the door to the enemy of your soul. What was just a small root can quickly become a huge oak.
For those truths that seem to cut to our very soul, i.e. the reality of a cheating spouse, please allow yourself to feel. Only you know how deep the truth cuts. For me, my deep truth was the day I realized that the spiritual mentor that I looked to was not who they said they really were. I was devastated; however, I refused to allow myself to be anger. I believed that to speak the reality of what happened and to express anger about it was to touch God’s “anointed” and in turn bring a curse onto myself. Denying my hurt and anger opened the door to hatred. Only after talking through it and allowing myself to grieve was I able to start healing. And for me, the process took years.
Forgiveness can’t begin until you first acknowledge the truth of the hurt. You can’t forgive someone if you are walking around saying “I don’t care, or that truth didn’t mean anything to me.” Listen we live in this world, we are not walking in our sanctified bodies. We are going to experience hurts and offenses. Some are no big deal but others can cut us to the very core of who we are. Even a small splinter can eventually lead to an infection. Don’t let hurts to your spirit lead to a spiritual infection.
No matter the size and effect of the truth, forgiveness is a MUST. It has to take place in order for us to move past the hurt. Without forgiveness God will not forgive you (Matthew 6:14). If you discover that a feeling that you have has become a fact, take the time to deal with it. Walk through acknowledging it, come to terms with it, and allowing forgiveness to wash it clean.