Book of Rememberance

Malachi 3:16

Concerning Discerning

on January 10, 2013

There are some things in life and about my life that have often puzzled me when I take the time to think about them… or am faced dealing with them directly.  One of those things that has been keeping me up these days is the differences between feelings and emotions. In fact it took me until just the other day to realize there was in fact a difference between them. At least there is for my understanding and purposes.

The definitions are as follows:

emotion  e·mo·tion (ĭ-mō’shən)
n.  An intense mental state that arises subjectively rather than through conscious effort and is often accompanied by physiological changes; a feeling.

feeling                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    n.  An affective state of consciousness, such as that resulting from emotions, sentiments, or desires.

According to these definitions, feelings and emotions are connected and are often in many dictionaries synonyms of the same expression.  For our everyday purposes this works and makes perfect sense. I am often using either word interchangeably when having conversations. However for expressing my spiritual self it doesn’t work the same way. Now maybe I just don’t know the word I should be using, or the one that is meant to express that which I am often trying to understand myself, but either way I need to clarify the differences.

I want to show a difference between them because I am a Christian and I trust in the Lord to lead and guide me in His Word and in His ways. This is still a great and amazing mystery to me!

I struggle sometimes with my emotions. Those unconscious reactions to what is going on around me. These are always for me situational and subjective. My emotions are fickle. They change very quickly depending on whats happening and what I’m doing. I can not choose an emotion nor prevent an emotion from rising up in me. But I can control the emotion and control my physical response to that. ( Well at least theoretically I can, the reality of me doing this is not always the case). I can shut up when I want to scream, I can run when I want to fight, I can clean when I want to cry.. you get the idea.  I also believe that our thoughts can add or take away from  the effects of emotions.

If I am angry thinking about the thing that made me so angry always makes me angrier. When I’m sad continuing to replay the sadness makes it nearly impossible to stop the tears but on the other hand of I  think of something else, even neutral, I can tuck those emotions away and go on with my day.

So where do feelings come in I guess you may be wondering…and whats the big deal of talking about why they may be different…

Well,  when I have been at a critical point and a very specific decision needs to be made, and I have prayed for Gods direction.. there is that moment when I know what God has told me to do. How do I know? I don’t know!!! It’s just  a very deep peaceful feeling that I know what the right action is to take.  I have a feeling of peace though the situation may not be peaceful. I have a feeling of confidence in the choice though I may not know the outcome. Sometimes its directly against the thing I want to do… in that case it’s bizarre to have a feeling toward something that I want and yet a different feeling toward that thing I feel God is directing me toward. I can not explain this. I hardly understand it at all. How does that work?

Now this is very important to be able to distinguish between a feeling and emotion. Especially for  me as I go to a rather charismatic church and though my pastors are not overly emotional the congregation can often respond that way. It’s important for me to differentiate when the people are flowing out of emotion and when the spirit is flowing freely.  I am blessed in that I have a rather critical heart..and in comparison to others I too am not overly emotional. I never enjoy experiences but always want the lesson that God is teaching. But I can not say with certainty that at times I don’t mistake my emotion with feeling that God is leading me. It happens! I wish it didn’t but I have no perfected discernment.. on the other hand I have gotten more deliberate and take time to act or speak to be as certain as I possibly can when I feel God is talking vs when I know its my emotions just on a rampage! I have gotten better at discerning and continue to grow as God provides me with lessons and situations.

I hope to have a more biblical understanding of this as I study about it. I know that God has provided the answers to my questions through His Word and when I take the time to search it He will teach me along the way. (Proverbs 25:2)

Maybe next time I will be more capable of discussing the differences between confidence and  confirmation.

Blessings 🙂

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