I think the breakthrough came when I finally got over myself.
I used to really struggle with feelings of rage and bitterness and unforgiveness. The key word here is feelings. I held my feelings close to me like a warm fuzzy blanket. They were my barometer for my happiness and a holding tank for all the slights I received. My feelings determined the way I analyzed how you treated me. If you regularly hurt my feelings, you were bad and I despised you. If you often made me feel good, you were perfect and easily forgiven. Looking back, I can see that my feelings had been my idol since childhood. I didn’t always like what I felt, but my emotions were strong and I felt powerless to change them. Sometimes, I felt superior because my feelings produced in me great joy that was unattainable to my thinking friends. But at other times, I felt shame for the powerful moods I experienced (and got in trouble for) because they made me into someone I never intended to be. When this shame was directed inward at myself, rather than upward to God, it produced in me contempt towards those who hurt me. When I carried this contempt around long enough, it turned to bitterness and despair. This despair gave me no hope for change. Many times, when in this despair, I felt such self-hatred that I just wanted to hide from life. I wanted to disappear. I questioned why God had made me this way.
Feelers like me feel trapped by their personalities. They are often proud and self-centered people who wish they weren’t this way. They are proud because they can feel and sense and intuit things that their thinking peers cannot. They can reach mountain top highs when things are good, but they can also descend into seemingly inescapable pits when their feelings are used only to glorify themselves. And they are self-centered because their entire world is arranged around how they perceive things. Feelers don’t always like operating by their emotions, but they don’t seem to have any other option. It is as if God built them with one operating system, but no upgrades are available—so they keep on using what they know and what is comfortable to them. When a thinker tries to change a feeler by saying, “Just change and act this way”, the feeler would often love to comply but doesn’t understand how to do that. In their mind, they don’t know how to try because the only language they have spoken up to this point is feelings. Thinking through their responses seems undoable—a foreign language to them.
Oftentimes, high feelers (people who function primarily by emotions) will resent thinkers because life seems so much easier and more clear for the thinker. Thinkers seem to be able to make logical decisions and comply with them, while the feeler must use every ounce of strength he can muster just to remain in neutral. Life is very complex for the feeler and they often feel betrayed by their natural reactions because these reactions lead them into sin.
When I was trapped in my emotions, I needed lots of grace; lots and lots of grace. Especially when I didn’t deserve it. Luckily, God provided me with a husband who gave that to me. Because Brent believed in me when I couldn’t believe in myself, I was able to trust him when I couldn’t trust myself. During this dark time in my life, Brent was a little picture of Jesus to me. He forgave me when I hurt him and helped me crawl out of the pit into which I had fallen. Every feeler needs someone who believes in them—someone who will not judge them. Feelers don’t need to be told what they are doing wrong. They are keenly aware of their failings. To a feeler, their failings make them failures.
So, I guess what I want to say to my thinking friends is this: For a very long time, I was caught up in my self and my feelings. I was completely consumed with my moods, my circumstances, and my comfort level. I was not fun to be around…but I knew no other way. Then God came in and rescued me and released me from this prison. He instructed me through His word when He said...
“Do not be conformed any longer to the patterns of this world, but be TRANSFORMED by the RENEWING OF YOUR MIND, then you will be ABLE TO TEST AND APPROVE WHAT GOD’S WILL IS, His good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)
And I was set free. Not free to never struggle with my emotions, but free to use the renewed mind that God had placed within me when I accepted Him as my Savior—the mind that I didn’t even know I had! I was now able to use this renewed mind to govern my emotions, rather than letting my emotions govern my mind. My feelings were no longer my masters! I was set free from myself!
I say all of this to help you understand your feeling friends and to give you some insight into their struggles. There are things that you, as a thinker, can do to help…or to hurt…your feeling friends and loved ones. Check in later this week to learn how to extend unconditional love to people who long for freedom from themselves. Or if you are a feeler like me, discover how you can gain mastery over the rouge emotions that master you.
And remember thinking friends, we need you. Please be gentle with us.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.