Life experienced has definitely etched the mantra of “Don’t Chase a Feeling; Chase a Characteristic” in my brain and on my heart. It took me years of unpacking, but I’ve finally gotten it and I’m so excited to begin this series with you. Grab your coffee, your Strand of Faith and come join me for our Coffee Hour!
I learned a long time ago that feelings aren’t right or wrong; they just are; but a good characteristic, now that’s something worth chasing. A characteristic is much more dependable than a feeling. When you adopt a characteristic, it becomes part of your character, and your character is a mirror of you! The Miriam Webster’s dictionary defines characteristic as: “a special quality or trait that makes a person, thing, or group different from others.” So feelings, though internal in nature, are based on external circumstances and situations while characteristics are completely internal but both affect our external actions.
We as women were created as emotional beings and often we can get caught in the cycle of chasing our feelings, thereby being ruled by them. Oh, have I had some out-of-body experiences whereby I have jumped on a broom to chase a feeling! 🙂 Have you ever seen a dog or cat chase its tail? That’s kind of what chasing a feeling can do to us. When we chase a feeling, we tend to touch insanity, and we all know that insanity is doing the same thing expecting a different result. To explain what I mean, I’ll go ahead and use my own experience for life experienced can be our greatest teacher.
Most of my life, my choices were motivated by my feelings because I was always trying to “feel” loved, “feel” important, “feel appreciated,” et cetera, I pursued things and chose things that I thought would bring that “feeling.” I looked like that cat or dog chasing its tale, and yet, it wasn’t funny 🙁 It was a long time before I finally paid attention to this truth and began to look in my trunk and face the junk. It was that moment of surrender that I handed over the key to the Owner of this house, and then, with the utmost love and attention, He began my unpacking process, putting things away that were salvageable and getting rid of those things that needed to go. The crazy thing about our God is when He takes something away He replaces it with something better. This is absolutely true when it comes to letting go of feelings in pursuit of Christ-like characteristics!
After unpacking the piece of junk in my history that taught me to chase a feeling, He has taught me the life-changing value of chasing a characteristic. Some of you may be wondering what I mean by unpacking that which caused me to chase a feeling. My trunk started filling up at the age of five when my biological mom and dad divorced, and as I reach way back into my memory, I can hear yelling, screaming, the throwing of dishes and the slamming of doors and feel the fear running through my veins that led up to that divorce. My own mom’s choices didn’t get any better after that. Her bad choices affected all of us — my two brothers, and my two sisters — hence, our trunks were overflowing. It’s funny; there’s a verse in the book of Proverbs that says, “Down is a man/woman who lacks self-control.” I get this picture of one caring a huge piece of luggage, aka, junk on their shoulders, and their journey is made more difficult as they walk with their head down, eyes pointing to the ground, heavy-hearted and heavy-laden! Wow, that was me.
So if I look at the puzzle piece of their divorce and “feel” what it made me feel, which is a feeling of being/losing control, obviously I’m gonna want to replace that feeling with being in control. So off I went running, chasing the delusion of “feeling” like I was in control. To chase control is like a never-ending marathon because we never get there; to chase self-control is to participate in a 5 or 10-k, however long it takes. To chase control brings more junk; to chase self-control unpacks more junk.
How about you, have you been chasing a feeling lately…such as control over something or someone, or the feeling of being loved and/or accepted? Is there a puzzle piece of your life you need to examine so you understand your feeling so it doesn’t control you? Join me next week to learn how to chase a characteristic and work through the feelings.