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Just Not Feeling It

March 30, 2020
Just not feeling it. - Post by aniasmum on Boldomatic

I’m on social media way too much. I know. Don’t judge me. I can quit any time I want to… OK. It’s a problem I’m working on. But with all this time on my hands, social media’s attraction is stronger than ever. And besides, where will I get all my reliable news if I’m not surfing through my precious Facebook posts and Twitter tweets?

Lately I’m seeing a lot of hopeful and positive posts on my social media accounts about how the lock-down we’re going through is really a good thing, and how if you look at it as an opportunity, there’s a lot about it that we’ll be able to leverage once we get through it. And, oh, yeah, I’ve written some about this too.

In my head, I believe this. Intellectually, I believe this is a season of unprecedented opportunity for people with the right mind-set. I get that my attitude is the keystone. Attitude sets altitude. Yep. Got it.

But in spite of my mental assent to these concepts, today I’m just not feeling it. Anybody out there know what I’m talking about?

I have a friend who every time I’ve ever asked him how he’s doing has said, “Fantastic.” Even a few times when I knew he wasn’t doing fantastic. I admire whatever it is that makes it possible for him to respond this way, whether it’s nurture or nature, or just a repeated conscious choice to build a habit of saying it. “Fine,” or “OK” are both plenty good for me. My temperament is such that “fantastic” doesn’t happen that often.

None of the writers of the New Testament wrote about it, but I wonder if they sometimes just didn’t feel it, either. Both Peter and Paul wrote about persecutions and trials, but they never came right out and said they didn’t feel it. I’m pretty sure Jeremiah (the Old Testament prophet) didn’t feel it all the time. Read Lamentations and let me know what you think. So there’s that.

I don’t want to be sacrilegious, but when Jesus clawed the ground and sweat drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane the night of His betrayal, I think there was a point where He wasn’t feeling it. Perhaps briefly, but I think he knows the feeling. Or lack of it.

Just not feeling it is probably part of the human condition. Personally, I don’t think experiencing it, just not feeling it, is a sin. As with every emotion, having it isn’t the point. Having feelings isn’t what we’re accountable for. What I do about the feelings I have is what I’m accountable for.

For me, the question isn’t, “How do I keep from not feeling it?” It’s, “What do I do about it when I’m just not feeling it?” What I do about it when I just don’t feel it is where right and/or wrong come in.

So today the question for me is, “What am I going to do about just not really feeling it?”

I take my cue from the Apostle Paul. Near the end of his letter to the Philippians, in chapter 4, verse 8, he wrote, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Nothing is more powerful toward what we feel than what we think. You’ll need to read that sentence again.

Now, lots of people get that backwards. For them, nothing is more powerful toward what they think than what they feel. These poor souls are constantly at the mercy of transitory and unreliable feelings. They edit Descartes’ famous saying from “I think, therefore I am,” to, “I feel, therefore I am.” Most of the people I work with in my counseling practice are held hostage by this upside-down pattern.

No doubt you will get thoughts from your feelings as surely as you’ll get feelings from your thoughts. But the problem with putting feelings first is that they have little regard for facts. And that’s a BIG problem.

In a time of nearly universal crisis, like the moment we’re in right now, our feelings will be strong. Possibly the strongest of the feelings we have is fear. Fearing what might happen to us, to our families, our businesses, the whole world! And, frankly, there’s plenty to be afraid of.

If permitted, fear will drive a flywheel that will reinforce and enlarge itself. Fear begets fear begets fear. Endlessly. Until something breaks the cycle.

The only thing that breaks the cycle is something other than fear being introduced into it.

That’s what Paul offers here. A short catalogue of things to introduce into the fear cycle that will interrupt and eventually break the cycle. More of a grocery list than a catalogue, really.

“…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

When I’m just not feeling it, the best thing for me to do is to THINK IT. It’s not the most natural thing. It’s sometimes not the easiest thing. It almost never happens by accident. But when I’m just not feeling it, the only thing I know of that works is to intentionally THINK.

I have a challenge for you and your family. Since we’re all cooped up with each other for the foreseeable future, and you’ll be running out of ideas for meaningful interaction soon, give this a try.

Make a chart that might look something like this:

The Philippians 4:8 Filter

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

True 
Noble 
Right 
Pure 
Lovely 
Admirable 
Excellent 
Praiseworthy 

Hand-write it on a piece of notebook paper. It doesn’t need to be a big, professional looking thing.

Keep it on the kitchen or dining table – whichever table you use the most for meals. You’re eating at the table, aren’t you? And then, every time you’re together for a meal, you make a game of coming up with one or two things from the day or the day just past in each of these categories. If your kids aren’t old enough to understand the words, scale them back to words that they understand. Everybody gets a chance to contribute. People can contribute more than one answer. But everybody needs to come up with something. You can’t get up from the table until you’ve filled out the chart. Start the fun at the beginning of your meal, right after your prayer for God’s blessing on and your thanksgiving for the food, and play it out until you fill up the chart.

In an ideal world, every member of your family would be thoroughly excited about the chance to do this. They’d enthusiastically contribute. NEWS FLASH: you don’t live in an ideal world. You’ll have to be creative and winsome to pull this off. If you’ve got teens, they may not even want to be at the table with you, let alone contribute to this little game. But give it a try. Give them a chance. If they don’t throw in with it, don’t get all pouty and whiny. Just do what you can. Fill out the chart.

You’ve already figured out the point of this game, haven’t you? It’s to interrupt the negative flywheel of feelings by thinking. “…think on these things,” (King James Version) or “… think about such things,” (New International Version), Paul writes. Listing them is the starting point for thinking on them.

I believe that if you begin to think of things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praise-worthy, you’ll discover a transition in your feelings. By listing them, the ship of your feelings won’t be turned on a dime. Your feelings are more like a cruise ship than a Sea-Do. But when you dwell on these kind of things, when you think about them, it will begin the turn.

And when you’re just not feeling it, turning your feelings even a few clicks can make a ton of difference for you and your family.

From → Marriage, Parenting

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