Alter of the Feels
If you have children of almost any age, the chances are that today they felt all the feels. And, if you are a mama of said children of any age, then I’m betting that today you, too, felt all the feels.
I’m not sure where that term came from, but it pretty much sums up society these days. We feel everything deeply, and feelings are considered the ultimate barometer for life. There’s no doubt that this feelings frenzy has affected our parenting.
We have been taught to pay special attention to our children’s feelings and to validate them as much as we can. I’m not saying this is a terrible practice. I mean, it’s never wrong to consider someone’s feelings. But can I say with all honesty that about 85% of a kid’s feelings about things are irrelevant? Children feel 147 different ways before lunchtime. They get upset if their graham cracker is broken. They cry like their heart is broken because a dog licked their elbow. Worse than that, they will kick and scream like you’re murdering them because you’re trying to buckle them into a car seat or keep them from grabbing a hot burner or stop them from running into the street. If we pay attention to every feeling that a kid has, we will be paralyzed and completely ineffective as parents.
The truth is that God gave children parents because they don’t have enough sense to raise themselves. So, why in the world do we give their feelings so much power in our homes? Stop the insanity, y’ all. You are the parent. You know what is best. And, the best isn’t staying up until midnight (even if your preschooler is crushed that you are enforcing a bedtime). The best isn’t letting your children yell at you (even if you are glad they know how to “express themselves”). The best isn’t letting children decide if they “feel” like going to church or not (even if they are heartbroken that they can’t stay home in their PJs).
I’m tough on you. I know. But there’s something else that you must remember, dear reader. It isn’t just the children who try to make too much of their feelings. We do the same thing.
We think so much about how we feel about things that we lose all sense of reality. The self-help masters and the self-esteem gurus have told us again and again that our feelings matter. That we should follow our heart, trust our gut that we can’t help how we feel that every feeling is valid. That’s nonsense. Most of our feelings are 100% invalid. Most are just ways that our hearts lie to us. Most are just ways that we are filled with selfishness and pride and rebellion and sin. Yes, feelings can be sinful. And very many feelings are.
Our feelings say we deserve glory. That we know better than God. That what we want is more important than what God wants. Our feelings lead us astray again and again, and they will do the same to our children, yet we continue to bow down at the altar of the feels as if it’s the only way to be a human being.
But what if we lived in a different way? What if we parented in a different way? What if we decided that feelings were going to have very little bearing on how we make decisions? What if we prayed that God would change our feelings and desires to make them godly? To make us want what he wants? To help us recognize when our feelings are opposed to his ways and his will? What if we decided in our families that all the feels were going to take a backseat to the reasoning, the prayer, the God-following, the God-honoring? Imagine how it would change our families. How it would change us.
Feelings aren’t the most important thing. They were never meant to be. Don’t teach your children otherwise by trying to validate unreasonable feelings, and don’t let the way you feel rule the way you live your life. Feelings come, and feelings go. But, the truth is always true. Make sure that you’re living in the reality of God’s truth, and not in a haze of your family’s feelings. Clarity comes when you reject lying feelings and cling to what you know is real.
Your children need to breathe the clean air of reason and sense, and so do you. Don’t live in a foggy world of finicky feelings. God’s way is narrow, but it is clear: your heart will lie to you over and over again. Don’t follow it. Don’t trust your gut. Trust in the name of the Lord your God alone, and take your cues from His word, not how you feel about things. Teach your children to do the same. Then the next time someone gives you the sage advice that you should follow your heart, you’ll be able to look at them with all sincerity when you say, I don’t feel like it.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”