Happy 30th Birthday to the Hubs and I! We both turned 30 this Summer. When I turned 29 I freaked out because I was almost 30, so I dyed my hair purple in order to feel youthful. This year right before the big 3-0 I chopped my hair off. My father-in-law teasingly informed me I got “The Mom Cut,” which is described as a waterfall in the front and knives in the back. Oh no, what have I done? Was my initial thought, but then I figured it suites me. I’m nice like a waterfall, but if you mess with my kids I’ll bust out the knives!
As a teenager when my youth pastor turned 30 he completely shaved his head. I remember thinking, “Wow he’s so old he’s even bald!” Now I’m the baldie! … except not. To mark this decade I wanted to write a special post pertaining to the monumental amount of wisdom I’ve gathered in the past 3 decades (note the sarcastic tones). I asked God for a topic and “Feelings” is what I felt Him say. Considering this birthday brought up a lot of feelings it seemed fitting. The first feeling that came was Surprise– where did time go?, which was followed by Regrets– I could’ve and should’ve done a lot of things differently in my 20’s accompanied by Fear– I’m already having physical pains. Is it all downhill from hear? followed with Anxiety– Am I accomplishing anything? And relieved by Hope– With an increase in faith and a willingness to be used by God I believe He can accomplish so much more through me, which preluded Contentment– I am beyond blessed with a loving husband, 3 kids and a nice house. And then came the bonus feeling of Joy– Even without the afore mentioned blessings I know my joy comes from the Lord and we are going to kick Satan’s butt in the 30’s!
Feelings have not always “felt” normal to me. Naturally you are born with feelings. Babies cry when they’re upset and coo when they’re happy. But it is through nurture that one learns how to express their feelings. In a college psychology class I was taught that children in alcoholic homes are taught not to show feelings: Feelings are uncomfortable. Feelings are a sign of weakness. Just do what you’re supposed to do and don’t question it. Or else! This makes sense if the reason a person drinks in the first place is to numb negative feelings. Neither of my parents were/are alcoholics but they have suffered the affects of it. My father, having seen the negative affects alcohol had on his father, has chosen to avoid it completely. I sincerely respect my father’s caution, but I have not gone to the extreme of abstinence. Before I was married and still living with my parents occasionally I’d bring home a 6-pack of some fruity-tootie wine cooler. My mother would scold me, “You know your father doesn’t like alcohol in the house!” and than she’d graciously helped me drink it.
My father is a strong Christian man and the love of Christ “covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8), but some of the affects of being raised by an alcoholic parent were still present in my upbringing. It was never said out right but I was under the belief that feelings were a sign of weakness. Of course I had feelings but my ability to identify what they were was lacking and the freedom (or know how) to express them appropriately was missing. This ironically only brought up more feelings of frustration and anger. In many preschool curriculums children are taught feelings by looking at a feelings chart (like the one above I made for you on my 30th birthday). A recovering alcoholic (or an adult child of an alcoholic) may be given a similar chart of expressive caricatures to study because they were never taught how to identify feelings.
“Tough”. My husband and I knew each other in high school. I asked him to describe what he remembered about me in one word. He said “tough.” It’s funny to me that I came across as tough because I just got done watching a video (add link) about adoption and I blubbered like a fool. Certain topics just get the tears rolling. In high school tears did not come so easily. When I felt the need to cry I’d close my bedroom door and forcibly squeeze out tear. That began to change after I married a Feeler-of-a-husband. Our first year of marriage I felt like he was constantly forcing an emotional thermometer down my throat. Whenever there was an issue he would want to TALK about it. The nerve! My one word to describe my husband in high school was “quiet.” At the time I didn’t know it was because he was doped up on A.D.D. medicine. Now I wonder, Where’s that A.D.D. medicine when you need it!? When he wanted to talk through issues I’d just want him to shut-up and kiss me so we could call it “good.” Even more than marriage, pregnancy hormones and the experience of giving birth released all the feelers. There’s something about giving birth (or for an adoptive parents: caring for a helpless human) and seeing how precious and fragile life is to understand that life is worth crying over.
With all the emotions that turning 30 brought I thought it made for a good time to ponder the question, “Why did God give us feelings?” What I came up with is- God gave us feelings because we were created in His likeness . . . GOD HAS FEELINGS. Craziness. Although this is not a completely new concept for me it is worth looking into further. First off, God is love (1 John 4:8). God gets angry. For example, when Jesus was outraged that people were selling animals in His Father’s house and He overthrew the tables (Matthew 21:12), and let’s not forget God destroyed cities like Sodom and Gomorra because of all their nastiness (Genesis 19). There are soooo many more examples of God having feelings in the Bible but the one that stood out to me the most was that our sin causes the Holy Spirit to grieve (Ephesians 4:30). It’s like as our Heavenly Father when we disobey Him instead of becoming instantly angry He feels disappointed. It’s not that our sin took Him by surprise but that He has something so much better for us than what we thought we were accomplishing by sinning. When someone is angry at you it is easy to get angry back, but when you know you’ve disappointed them there is room for remorse.
There is a lot of grief going on in this household. As a mother of a 1, 2 and 4-year-old I live in a jungle gym of emotions. There have been times where EVERYONE is crying at the SAME time. One child bites another child. The bitten child cries out in pain. I discipline the biter, causing them to cry. The third child feels neglected and confused amongst the chaos so they begin to cry. I can’t deal with everybody’s feelers all at the same time, so I begin to cry! Before you know it the play room is flooded in tears all because someone wouldn’t share a Duplo block. My 4-year-old is going through a faze that at dinner time when I set her plate in front of her she cries. If it’s not pizza for dinner life is a tragedy. She even cried over cornbread. She loves cornbread! I may or may not have smothered it in goulash. But still. Good grief, who cries over cornbread!?
I understand that like my emotional children we were all created with feelings because we were created in His image. But still, WHY? What’s their purpose? I don’t always feel like doing what I’m supposed to do; this makes having feelings to seem like an obstacle in need of being avoided or removed. So why have them? How are they beneficial? Do I sound like a toddler yet? “Why? Why? Why!?!” Good. God likes us to think about Him. I strongly believe He gave us feelings so that we can feel in awe of HIM. When we see a magnificent sunset we can feel the awe of His artistry. When we learn an intricate fact about the human body we can feel the awe of His creation. When we hear a thunderstorm we can feel in awe of a tiny sample of His strength. When He gives us the ability to forgive someone who sinned against us we can feel the awe of His grace. When we obey Him and later see how He orchestrated it all out for our good we can feel in awe of His forethought in the details of our lives. When worshiping God you can feel in awe of His holiness. God gave us feelings because He is worthy of our awe.
“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8
“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:26-30
Dear God, Help my feelings to align with Your heart. Let me hurt for what makes You hurt, and let me delight in what brings you joy. Help me to obey You even when I don’t feel like it.