Look at him; give him your warmest smile. Never hide your feelings from him.
So this is my prayer; that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much, but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of.
The feelings I get when I see the high mountain ranges – stirrings of desire, longings for the heights….
Song of Solomon 7:5
By a soft answer wrath is turned away, but a bitter word is a cause of angry feelings.
My feelings are strongly moved and give me no rest; days of trouble have overtaken me.
Heartfelt Expression and the Human Spirit
To perceive or to be aware of through thought, bodily or emotional reactions, instinct, etc.
To produce an indicated overall condition, impression or reaction.
An impression produced upon a person; having sensation.
Marked by or indicating an emotion.
As the scriptures at the beginning of this chapter reveal, feelings are not something we should fear or reject. Feelings are real and they serve a unique purpose. They should be embraced and understood. In Philippians 1:9-10 we are told to test our feelings so that our love is sincere and intelligent. Test my feelings??
The soul is, by God’s design, a remarkable creation in itself. It is the spiritual part of our human makeup. It has highs and lows, depths and perceptions that are uniquely individual, and a resiliency that is perplexing to many. Within a part of that human spirit lies my heart, which carries “feelings”; wielded sometimes as a weapon, brandished sometimes as a shield, guarded sometimes when they are closed or hard; often extremely vulnerable, but always within me. The cry of my heart is often: my feeling is this, my feeling is that, or my feelings have been hurt. How can something as inanimate as feelings be hurt?
God created within each and every one of us the ability to “feel”. The Holy Spirit helps us to “feel” God’s presence, to recognize He is with us – be it through thought, emotion, or physical reaction. There is an all-consuming fire created within us when we fall into the presence of the Lord that makes us “feel” a multitude of often-unexplainable things.
Scripture reveals to me a myriad of feelings: anger, wrath, jealousy, fear, sadness, love, contentment, hope, trust, expectation, and anticipation – the list goes on and on. In this chapter I choose to only address negative feelings. I compare these negative feelings to a weed in my garden. The good stuff is at the end of the book – you know!!
I believe we should examine our own feelings and those of others given to us and give them meaning. Let them be something worthwhile. Treat them as something of value and as a precious part of who we are; who God designed us to be. We should never reject our own feelings as inconsequential, as according to scripture they are to be tested. We also shouldn’t reject the feelings of others as such. The sincerity of our compassion to others feelings is like a rain gage. If we were to be extremely honest, it would reveal not only our true compassion for them but for ourselves as well.
For me there is healing when I am allowed to release these feelings. (whether others accept my feelings as right or wrong – they are my feelings). This release does not necessarily have to be an outward explosion of whatever the feeling may be. Heartfelt expression of feeling comes in many ways: a silent teardrop, a quickening in the heart, a quieting of the spirit, raging anger, or a physical reaction such as the clenching of fists. The outward signs are there. The way we choose to reveal our feelings varies in each and every one of us. Uniqueness too was one of God’s great blessings.
As God created the cocoon for the butterfly to be nurtured in, so did He create the garden of our hearts and our human spirit to process, bring forth and release our feelings. Frequently when something feels bad, our initial instinct (whoa, is that a feeling?) is to react with hurt, sorrow, anger or shame. But if we take a positive look at our feeling, even if it is for instance, sadness, hurt or anger; feelings that none of us like; we can gain the understanding that by processing it in God’s way, bringing it forth in God’s way and releasing it in God’s way, we are provided stepping-stones that lead us towards healing, God’s way.
Our Heavenly Father has provided us with a toolbox full of tools necessary to help us accomplish this. The garden of our hearts is rich in soil that will allow a bloom to burst forth if watered and fed. Most definitely before the true work can begin, we unquestionably have to acknowledge we can only do this with the help of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He is our toolbox from which we begin.
Expression of the deepest, true heartfelt feeling is also in the toolbox. There is nothing harder for me than to have acknowledgment of what I am trying to express as a feeling rejected, discounted or ignored. BUT – that doesn’t give me the right to foist that feeling onto someone else nor does that give me the right to take another’s feelings and treat them as inconsequential either. So what do I do? I release the feeling and then I look at what God has put in my path, either on the stepping-stones or in between. I stop and let the processing stage of healing begin. It is all there in His toolbox.
God gifts each and every one of us with a form of expressing our feelings: words spoken or written, music, art, drama, physical actions, etc. Sometimes we have to dig into ourselves very deeply to find that expression, other times God reveals it to us at the time we most cry out for it and most need it. He is so faithful and truly knows our every need. He will give to us that which we ask for.
The Garden Shed
Expression of my heartfelt feeling becomes alive. There are weeds in my garden. I must remove them. I am determined to dig the weeds out from between the stepping-stones. I know the tools are in the toolbox in the shed. I just have to reach for them. I find and prepare the equipment that I think I need to remove those weeds. They are in that shed somewhere! There, there are the clippers (grace). Oh yes and over there is the hoe (mercy). And behind the shovels is the rake (forgiveness). I need the bucket (compassion). Wait, I need one more thing. My gloves, my covering. (the Cross) Looking towards ridding myself of something ugly and unwanted I know the work ahead of me won’t be easy, but I picture in my mind a clean area: an area that soon can be cultivated for something much more beautiful. A place where my Lord and Savior Jesus can dwell in beauty and rest. I envision the seeds that He will gently plant and that will grow into such a majestic array of color and texture if carefully nurtured in place of the weeds He is helping me to remove. I briefly think of the backache I will have when I am done. Though I know the work of digging them out will be hard, I recognize there will be a payoff (true salvation and repentance). I welcome the inconvenience and the soreness of some amount of pain if beauty is returned to my garden. I can move on.
Now I know I need to bring forth these nuisances from my garden. They must be removed and destroyed. The digging process itself feels good. Physical labor is often a great balm to my soul in itself. I am bringing forth that which is unwanted or harmful. I move to the first weed and the Holy Spirit begins the work at the root. He uses the hoe to loosen the soil around the first weed. He takes the rake and rakes away the pile of dirt in His way. Finally He goes to the root and uses the clippers to snip it as deep as He can. Then this weed, this sin, this despicable part of my garden goes sailing into the bucket. He shows me how it is done and soon I’ve joined in. Working side by side we tackle these problems in my garden. Much digging, tugging and pulling ensues, but finally, at last, the hard task of getting the first one out together is done. I stand to my feet and feel the warmth of the sun on my face. My eyes look towards the vast expanse of blue above me rather than at the dirt I have just been in below me. There is an ache in my back that I know will get worse before I can attend to it but I am unwavering in my efforts at this point. I will complete this task. Jesus showed me how, now the rest of the responsibility is mine. I must get these weeds out of the ground and into the bucket for Him to throw away.
Moving on to the next weed, I begin with the help of the tools from the toolbox to continue to hack and pull, cut and sever, twist and turn these weeds one at a time to remove them. As I move to the garden hose I realize while I am cleaning the dirt from the shovel, clippers and gardener’s fork I used to get the weeds out that there is inside of me the beginnings of a sense of accomplishment. I know the touch of Abba Father’s hand is on my back and I am spurred on.
Seeing the weeds out of the ground feels wonderful. I know there are more and tomorrow I will continue my efforts to bring about a clean place for the new plantings I glimpsed Jesus set on my porch. I can’t wait for that day of new birth. Patience, my child, empty today’s bucket.
My soul dances with joy as I watch the weeds sail over the fence. I fling their offensiveness aside. Throwing them as hard as I can I see them come to rest in the garbage pile, released from their destruction and knowing they can no longer grow and wreak their havoc in my garden. They have no more life and I know they can no longer do their damage of spreading weed seeds or strangling out that which is beautiful. A part of my garden is being returned to me. With the help of Christ I have begun the removal of something unwanted. I can move on.
I love to see new growth. One of the joys in my life is to be able to place a plant or a seed in fertile soil and watch it grow. I was gifted with a “green thumb” and can nurture and grow just about anything (except roses). Roses have thorns and I suspect that’s why I can’t grow them. I don’t deal well with thorns in my life. Especially thorns I have had a part in creating.
Before we can plant the new seeds however, the soil must be replenished. Good soil needs tender loving care. And I have more weeds to dispose of before thought of planting can begin.
To be continued…………………….someday.
It has been a long time since I have visited this writing. Time to pick it up and continue I think.
Be blessed today.