Last Updated on September 18, 2018

During a recent car ride one of my children asked, “Momma, what are feelings?”  I began to answer, “They’re how you feel. I mean what you feel…I mean…ahhhh!”  How do you define feelings without using the word “feel”. The other option was the word “emotion” which would probably open up another definition discussion I was ill-prepared to have.

I ended us saying, “Sweetie, feelings are the way you feel, like happy, sad, scared, excited.”  She seemed to understand.

I wish I understood feelings.

Feelings are messy and I’m tired of them.

You know that verse in Philippians where Paul says, “rejoice in the Lord always”?  (Phil. 4:4) Sometimes I’ve wondered what exactly does that look like in my day to day life?  For me, I think it’s trusting in spite of my circumstances or how I feel about them.

Parenting Is A Challenge

One of the most emotional places in my life is parenting. My youngest daughter can be very challenging and sometimes it feels as though I can’t do one single thing to convince her to choose good.  She needs love and affirmation a lot (just like me), and sometimes it’s exactly what she needs and exactly what I don’t believe she deserves…and it isn’t what I want to do either…I’d prefer just a really long time-out (for both of us).

She was a ragged mess the other day and I decided to love on her instead of the endless timeouts and talking-tos I usually try. She wasn’t perfect afterwards, but she was oh so much better.  We both were. Instead of being crushed by her behavior and my fear about parenting her, I focused on the good in my daughter. And there is a lot of good under all that spicy.

As I sat holding her that day, I felt overcome by all the things in my life that are stealing my joy.

But can something truly steal my joy? Maybe I’m just giving it up without a fight. Because my joy isn’t about my circumstances or the people in my lives…or even my feelings. Ultimately, isn’t my joy about Jesus?  Jesus who is the same yesterday, today, tomorrow…regardless of what’s going on or how I feel.

I’m thinking if God commanded us to rejoice, it has to be possible, right?  God does not command us to do something that He will not also enable us to do.

But when tears spring to my eyes and I feel completely overcome by all the unknowns, the struggles, and the fears, I’m not close to rejoicing….I’m close to crumbling. I don’t feel like rejoicing…I feel like woe-is-me-ing…I feel like feeling all those feelings.

I’m always going back to Isaiah 26:3-4 “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.”

God Is Up For The Challenge

His words are a soothing balm to my weary heart. He asks me to do these things that are all wonderful things – do you know what I mean? It’s like a parent saying, “Hey, your bag looks heavy, sweetheart. May I carry it for you? Let me have that and you just follow me. Don’t be afraid. Let me lead you. I love you and I will take care of you.”

And yet, I don’t. I hold on to my big ole bag of feelings.

I remember a trip I took with two friends. As one friend schooched down the airplane aisle with her big bag in tow, she inadvertently whacked about every other person on the head, shoulder, or knee. My other friend and I could barely walk we were laughing so hard. (That was wrong, by the way. We should have helped not fallen into hysteria.) It was so ridiculous though.

That’s me. Dragging this big ole bag of emotions around, banging into people’s head, shoulders, and knees. Unaware, sometimes, of the bruises I leave in my wake. Not to mention the bazillion times that feelings bag whacks me too.

But God says, “Cast all your burden on me, and I will sustain you.” (Psalm 55:22)

“It’s a big bag God. You sure you can handle it? I mean, I kinda got this. I think I can do it…at least most days. “

“Precious one, let me have that. Yes, you have lugged it around for a while now, but you are weary and worn. Let go of your pride and allow me to carry it. You are important to me. I love you.”

[verse reference=”1 Peter 5:6-7″]Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.[/verse](1 Peter 5:6-7)

In the middle of the night when I can’t sleep or in the middle of the day when I feel on the verge of tears or a nervous breakdown (or both), I get so frustrated that I’m struggling with anxious thoughts. I know better. I know the truth. I’m doing all the things I’m supposed to and still I struggle.

Today, Just Today

But God has revealed something to me. I’m at a place where I’m beginning to understand the living today idea. I can only live today – I can’t live tomorrow or a month or a year or ten years from today. Just today. That is all God asks me to do. So I’m trying to live faithfully in today. It isn’t always easy, but there’s relief in it.

I’m purposefully keeping my head in today…just trying to work on what must be done today, just occupying myself with the things that need to be done today, felt today, thought about today.

Oh my goodness! How did I get from my daughter’s question about feelings to here?  Feelings do take us to interesting and unexpected places, don’t’ they?

God has reminded me in my pondering of feelings that the answer to dealing with them is Him. Casting my burden on Him.  Trusting Him today and knowing that I’ll be able to trust Him tomorrow and the day after that…

It is always about Jesus.

Rejoicing is about Jesus.

Trusting is about Jesus.

Living each day, just today, is about Jesus.