Is What I Feel Real?
Feelings can be fickle. You may hate Brussels sprouts as a child and appreciate them as an adult. You may love your favorite sports team one moment and be disgusted with them the next. You may find winter beautiful in December and be tired of it in January. Sometimes our range of emotions can be like riding a rollercoaster.
Imagine that you were taught that spiritual truths came through emotions. You might feel very close to God on those days when you’re flying high, but when the winter doldrums pull you down, you might question where you stand with God.
That can be a very real struggle that many of our Mormon friends experience. They are taught that “the Holy Ghost reveals and confirms truth through feelings, thoughts, and impressions” (The Plan of Salvation). This can lead people to chase one happy moment after the next as vindication that God is pleased with them. If they don’t feel genuine happiness, they may put up a front because of the pressure to demonstrate you have God’s favor. They’re led to believe that having the right feelings depends on you.
One struggling Mormon mom confided in a Christian mom, “God must really love you; you always seem to be happy.” Think about that. Because she didn’t feel like things were going so well, she began to doubt God’s love.
Human emotions are not accurate indicators of the reality of God’s promises. Take, for example, the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14. The Pharisee was proud, boasted about his righteous life and felt that God was happy with him. By contrast, the tax collector felt he had let God down again, was so discouraged he would not even look up to heaven and begged for mercy. You could make a case to say that neither of their feelings were accurate. God was not impressed with the Pharisee’s imperfect record nor was the tax collector outside of his love.
Contrary to popular culture, you can’t always follow your heart. “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
Do you always feel forgiven? Do you always feel like God loves you? There may be days when you don’t. You may have questions. You may have doubts. There are examples in the Bible and it can still happen today. The answer is not to chase after more happy moments or to sweep those doubts under the rug and ignore them. The answer is found when you stand on God’s unchanging promises.
Are you forgiven? Absolutely! “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). Does God love you? Without a doubt. In fact, “nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39).
When you’re guided not by feelings, but by the Word you will still experience emotions, but now in a deeper and more profound way. Instead of a just quiet moment, you’ll know true peace. Instead of a happy time, you’ll have lasting joy. When it’s based on God’s unchanging promises, you can be sure that what you feel is real.