On this day before Christmas, as we gather with friends & family, travel, attend holiday parties, etc…I tend to feel things more deeply this time of year. It’s not the season – I’ve shared how I love the cool air and winter season itself, but like probably many of y’all, I’ve been on the planet long enough to have experiences of loss; lots this (and last) year too.
I’m reminded of one of the most profound yet simple things recovery has taught me; that feelings are not facts – no matter how strong they are. I don’t have to fear them, but it’s not healthy to ignore them either.
Yes, my feelings are mine and they’re important. They are valid; I need to acknowledge them; especially when I’m grieving. This post isn’t about grief but it’s important to mention that. I’ve spent decades re-learning how to trust my gut so I am keenly aware of them – even though I still have lots of learning – and processing to do.
But if you’re anything like me, a feeling can turn towards a thought in a nanosecond. By choice, I need to take the next healthy step with my thoughts and that is to intentionally examine them in the light of God‘s word (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Minor sidestep but stay with me…I heard once in a meeting, “if someone calls you a chair, does that mean you’re a chair?”. Facts matter. Of course I’m not a chair. Duh. But it made sense. Would that statement upset me? Wreck me? I can only be as upset or “own” a message like that, if I choose to. Just because they said it, don’t make it so (“sticks & stones” stuff for my generation).
I can’t live by my feelings.
So then, applying this another way, if I feel like my life, situations, and relationships will never get better, stronger, healed – is that a fact? Or, is that really a perspective?
More importantly, is that what God says?
When I choose to apply the promises of God’s word (the foundations that we have come to know as the traditional recovery model is based on it too) to my life, situations, and relationships – to believe by faith (Hebrews 11), can that really have any impact on my feelings, the facts, my faith?
100% yes, it can. To live according to anything less, for me, means my faith is only as big as my limited perspective. How is that effective faith? It’s not faith in something bigger than me, and that’s really the point of having faith, isn’t it?
I spent far too many years of my life living on feelings. There’s so much more to life than that. There’s abundance to be lived – the fullness of life that isn’t wrapped up in emotions. That’s a big part of what this blogging for me is all about.
I have experienced a change in feelings, many times, after choosing to trust God by faith, even when I didn’t feel like what I was believing for. I’ve experienced His peace, even when He doesn’t answer my prayer the way I would have liked.
A word for my friends who are struggling with relationships – especially right now.
Christmas is the time we specifically take a moment to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. This miraculously conceived baby who grew up to die on a cross for you & me is THE Hope for all mankind – but often times, we “men” are not that “kind”; to ourselves or others.
During our festivities, we may encounter frustration and less than sweet interactions. In fact, it’s likely a given when dealing with family that may not be exactly healthy, but it’s also an opportunity for us to practice our recovery principles.
In this season, may we stop and recognize that we are all human, we have feelings (that can get hurt), but the facts matter more. So, as we travel & gather, let’s let our faith and the facts guide our thoughts, words, and actions. We have control over our choice to be happy regardless of what anyone else does.
Let us remember that God Himself, came to our crazy world to show us that He longs to do it with us (Emmanuel = God with us). That He is the sole definer of who and Who’s we are. He came to die, so we may live and not by our feelings, but by facts and faith.
He came so that we may step into everlasting life with Him, but so we’d know Him in the here & now too.
The facts are that we are loved with an everlasting Love, we matter to Him more than we can comprehend, and if we ask Him to, He will give us the grace and strength we need to navigate life and all of its ups & downs (and relationships). He will take our pain and repurpose it. He will make a message out of our messes.
Friends, when we keep walking by faith – and not by feelings – we will find that we do indeed recover; even if we don’t necessarily feel it. That’s a fact. By faith, we do; one day at a time. That’s Christmas in recovery for me today.
May you experience Jesus in the most profound way this season that forever changes your heart! A very Merry Christmas to y’all ❤️💚