Emotions vs. Obedience

Live according to your beliefs, not your emotions.

I wasn’t feeling happy.

I wasn’t feeling in love.

I didn’t feel the butterflies, I wasn’t sure if I ever had.

So I left. The world told me that if I didn’t feel happy, I shouldn’t be in my marriage. I wasn’t walking in my beliefs, I was walking in my emotions. I was letting them dictate my decisions.

Are you being obedient regardless of what your emotions are telling you, or are you allowing your emotions to dictate your obedience?

I tell ya, being obedient at that point of my life would have taken everything I had. I was depressed, laying on the couch crying about nothing and everything, I felt like I was drowning and didn’t know how to help myself. My husband would ask what he could do to help and I wouldn’t know what to tell him. I could barely feel anything, let alone happiness.

Being obedient, regardless of my emotions, would have taken every ounce of energy and brain-space I had. It would have felt like I was hiking uphill in waist high mud. But I know, now that I have gotten to the other side and seen what it took to cure me, that it wasn’t impossible. That it would have ended and my marriage would have been stronger for it.

Now, my emotions try to dictate my thoughts in an entirely different way.

Being single in a world that tells you your completeness will come when you’re married, is a tough one especially when God has told me to remain single. My loneliness seeps in, my desire for intimacy and connection, and it whispers to me along with the mantras of the world, that God wouldn’t really ask me to be single for this long. He wants us to be happy, he wants us to be dating, married, childbearing women.

When I allow myself to enter into a dating relationship, am I allowing my emotions to dictate my actions? Or am I stepping forward in obedience, regardless of my feelings?

Life is constantly changing. There’s ebbs and flows, ins and outs. I believe our God can hold us to something today and release us from it tomorrow. But His commands and Word stay the same throughout time. Are we allowing our emotions to change what He has told us or what the Bible commands…that is the question.

Obedience takes bravery. Sometimes the Lord asks us to do something that is counter-culture.

It’s staying in the marriage when it doesn’t make sense.

It’s remaining single when everyone just wishes we would date.

It’s guarding our virginity when everyone else has given theirs up.

It’s somtimes saying No to the cute guy that asks you out.

It’s saying Yes to committing to that missions trip.

It’s being ok with not taking the better paying job.

Obedience is an act of worship. It is a sacrifice we lay at God’s feet telling Him that He has control and we will surrender our plan to His will, regardless of our emotions.

God honors our worship, He sees our human struggles and knows the heart-hurt it can cause us. He desires to give us what our hearts need, which is often very different than what we want. What we want is usually a short-term fix to a long-term desire.

When we can lay aside our emotions, knowing that God will look after us even when it feels like He is distant, that is when we will see God and feel His presence and perhaps even see a miracle.

 

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Numb

Feeling numb is the natural reaction to having an unhealthy definition of what’s enough.

Mike Foster

It was a feeling of unfeeling. A complete numbness. I had checked out and was incapable of feeling anything at all. I didn’t feel the pain of leaving my husband or the hurt I was causing. I didn’t feel energy, happiness. I felt completely indifferent to everything around me.

Looking back, I wonder how on earth I allowed it to get this far. How had I allowed the world to influence me so much? Enough to get to the point of ending my marriage.

It wasn’t just the world, I know. There’s a powerful force out there, roaming around, scheming to lead us into situations and mentalities of destruction. I had allowed it to seep in, slowly poisoning my being. I was the frog in the pot of water, not having any idea I was slowly boiling to death.

Our marriage had started out well, or so I thought. We were two young, Christian people from good faith filled families. And we loved each other. Wasn’t it that simple? Two people who believe the same thing, feel chemistry…and then life just falls into place after that, doesn’t it?

Looking back, I believed it was this simple.

We loved each other and life would just happen and we would live through it and one day, after we just flowed through life, we would look at each other from our creaking rocking chairs and smile. Still happy. Still in love.

But life doesn’t happen that way. Life takes work, dedication, pushing through the hard things, holding on when it seems impossible. And it takes intention. Intentional steps of obedience. Intentional choices to do what we need to do, not always what we want to do. Intentional clinging to what is right even when our emotions are telling us to run.

I just didn’t realize marriage was going to be like this.

And so, after life flowed over me, pushing me this way and that, telling me I should do this, be this, go there, have that…and after I realized I was none of these things and fell so short of the worlds definition of success…I crumbled.

I was numb, shut off, depressed and I blamed my unhappiness and failure on my marriage and husband. I tried staying, hoping that without much effort, the feelings of emptiness would just disappear. But they didn’t, so I didn’t.

I ran as far as my little legs would carry me. I left a marriage, a good man, and family behind. I hurt many people and I became someone that was so far from my true self. I pursued a life that I thought would give me the happiness and success that I felt I needed.

When my list of Wants was all crossed off I realized I had nothing. I was just as empty as before but on top of that, I was alone.

Sometimes God gives you everything you want to show you it’s not at all what you need.

The remedy for a numb heart is focusing on Jesus. It sounds simple, doesn’t it? Too simple. Maddeningly simple. But I promise you that this is the cure. When you start to dive into the Word, surround yourself with Christians, dedicate time to pray, listen to what God is telling you…when you do these things it redefines your definition of success.

When your focus is on God, everything else blurs on the sidelines. He is all that matters. His definition of success is the only true definition.

When you start to define things by how the Lord defines them, you can start to do what seems impossible…like save your marriage.

 

 

 

Calling

I feel like God has a special calling on my life. It’s a big calling, a scary one, but the more I live within that calling the more it fuels the fire inside of me to continue in it.

I look back on my life and I see where I have felt God leading me to this point. I also see those times where I’ve had Mission Drift.

I know what God is asking of me. I know what He wants me to be speaking about. I know what part of my story is to become my testimony. But isn’t it just so easy to become distracted?

We are so lucky to have such a gentle and patient God that allows us to make mistakes and quietly leads us back to where He wants us to be.

There’s so many things that I love and that I want to be involved in. So many good things that can take my time and focus. Yes, they are good things. They are time with friends, education, helping others, volunteering etc. But what is it that God wants for me? There is good and then there is great.

When I was younger I was working full time from home selling a body-care product. I loved this product and where I saw it taking me. I loved the work I was putting into it, the women I was surrounded with, the passion I felt.

At a training conference with this company, I looked over the stadium filled with over 8,000 women and a thought crossed my mind. If I spent just as much time and dedication on God, what would my faith look like? If we were all here for the Lord, how powerful would that be?

Of course, at that time, I didn’t go further with that thought. It was just an interesting moment that crossed my mind. But now, hindsight tells me if I had acted on it, my marriage most likely wouldn’t have failed.

Now, every time a good opportunity comes across my path, I balance it with my relationship with the Lord. Will this further my faith-walk? Is this what God wants for me? Is this within my calling?

I need extra money and I could sell products again. But what if God wants to show me that I can rely on Him for the extras and to spend that time on Him instead? He has taught me that every moment doesn’t have to be filled but that I can rest and let Him look after me.

I often feel myself easily flowing towards Mission Drift and I catch myself. I don’t want do fall off my path only to realize later I’m way off course. I want to keep my eyes firmly focused, with stubborn faith, on my Jesus. I know that His journey for me not only is better for me, but that it follows my personal passions, the ones that were built inside of me. I know that sometimes He will ask that I put things aside because He has something better in store up ahead.

His mission for my life will fill my soul and quench my thirst for purpose and meaning, which I think the world is desperately searching for. I continue to be reminded of this lesson and continue to balance myself with Jesus as my focus. And I hope that by being obedient to Him I can help lead others around me to God’s calling in their lives and help their souls feel the peace I’ve been blessed with.

Focus on Him and everything else blurs on the sidelines.

 

Happiness

“But are you happy?”

“Do what makes you happy!”

“As long as you’re happy!”

There’s nothing that gets under my skin faster than one of these cliché happiness comments. Ok, I say that a lot, but this is one of my biggest pet-peeves. When my friends hear a comments like this they just look at me and roll their eyes “Uh oh, here goes Katie on her pedestal.” They know what comes next. Keeping my mouth shut is sometimes an issue. But that’s why I have a blog, right?

What is happiness? It’s a fleeting emotion. It comes just as fast as it disappears. Yet, so many of us base our lives on it. Our marriages. Our living situations. Our success. Our feelings of importance and self-acceptance. Our acceptance of others. “Are they happy? Ah, then that’s all that matters.”

One of the biggest reasons (excuses) for marriages falling apart is the lie that if it doesn’t make you happy, you shouldn’t be involved in it. Think of how many times you’ve seen a couple struggling and heard someone say “Well, if you aren’t happy, maybe you need to consider leaving”. This was definitely one of the reasons I used to justify leaving my marriage. As I listen to others in struggling marriages or those that have been through a divorce, this is one of the repeating lines.

Happiness comes and goes. If I’m not feeling happy with my husband or marriage one minute, the next minute it might change completely. It causes even more confusion to rely on happiness as a deciding factor. One minute I feel happy and content, the next I’m crying, depressed and empty. If I’m relying on the happiness to be there continually, when the sadness comes over me, I start to question if my marriage is right.

Happiness is never continually present. The feeling depends on our situations and our momentary experiences. Our marriages cannot possibly rely on the something that is so temperamental and instantaneous. Yes, it’s an important factor and feeling happy is good. But relying on to define what is right and wrong, especially something as important as a marriage, isn’t wise.

You’ll hear me mention my Rebellious Years many times in my writing. These are the two years that I lived a wild life outside of my marriage. During these years I did everything I could to feel “happy”. I was finally living my life the way I wanted to, not the way I had been told that I should. I drank, slept around, swore like a trucker. And apparently, I was happy. Or so I would have claimed throughout years. What I didn’t acknowledge, or even realize during this time, was how empty my soul was feeling. None of the things that I thought were making me happy, were actually making me feel joyful. Happiness flittered away within moments and I was left feeling empty.

I think that’s the lesson here. Joy is what we need to be pursuing. Something that is solid, can hold us during the storms, is unchanging. Something we can look to when times get tough and know that we will get through. Something that will fill our soul, not disappear as soon as the moment is complete.

And that’s where my relationship with the Lord comes in.

He is unchanging, he fills me soul with contentedness, he comforts and sooths me. He provides joy and encouragement even when I can’t seem to see the end of the struggle. If I focus on being happy, I will be tossed around, changing my mind constantly, wondering where I belong. I’ll always be pursuing the next best thing and wondering why I don’t feel complete. But if I chase after joy, I’ll be satisfied and know that the next best thing could never have satisfied my soul anyways.