By Danni Moss
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This exchange in the comments to the post When the Church Assaults the Sanctity of Life brings up a good point, so I wanted to highlight it with its own post. Thanks to LLS for bringing it up!
I believe a woman in an abusive relationship stops paying attention to her feelings and how she feels. I believe the abuser invalidates her feelings and even her reality. She becomes very “disconnected” from herself.
When a Christian woman (or man if that is the case) goes to talk to a fellow Christian or Christian counselor and talks about how they feel..I feel afraid, I feel confused, etc. This is met with an almost suspicious attitude because on the average, it seems the church has taught us to not “trust” our feelings. The teaching goes something like…your feelings aren’t accurate and you shouldn’t live by them…I have heard this taught so many times..
It as if the church has taught us to “deny ourselves” to our own harm.
You are exactly right.
The interesting thing about feelings is that they may not be an expression of the truth – but they may also be an expression of the truth. We can’t discount all feelings; we just need to use them as a red flag to go look for the truth.
Emotional feelings are much like physical feelings. It is possible to have physical sensations that are not an expression of the truth. Nerve pain is one example that comes to mind – when nerves send the message that there is pain in excess of reality. The pain is then real – there is just no causative wound. This happens sometimes after injury, surgery, and practically universally after amputation.
However, for the most part physical feelings are intended to communicate truth to us, so that we can adjust our behavior accordingly. If we put our hand on a hot stove burner the pain is intended to get us to move our hand and protect ourselves.
The same is true of emotional feelings. We need to not ignore them but evaluate whether they are giving us false information or true information! If false, then we need to discover why our emotions are sending us wrong information and seek to be “renewed in our minds” to bring our feelings into alignment with facts.
But just as often, maybe more, our emotions are telling us the truth. We need to pay attention because they are giving us clues to truth we may not be “seeing” with our minds. We are still responsible to handle these according to the truth – not let them drive the truck. But we are not supposed to ignore them, any more than we should ignore physical pain. That’s a good way to end up dead!