Can We ‘Trust’ Feelings? [v119]

JANUARY 2009

CAN WE ‘TRUST’ OUR FEELINGS?
Arielle and I had a ‘spirited’ discussion over the Christmas holiday on something she was very passionate about—that she FELT was right. She respectfully said that she understood my viewpoint, and that I was entitled to my “opinion,” but she didn’t agree with it.

So, I asked her how did she arrived at her belief, and what she based her belief on.

She definitely had thought a lot about this before, and had many ‘reasons’ why she felt the way she did. I then asked her how ‘TRUSTWORTHY’ she thought her reasons were. Were they TRUE?

Most people know ‘instinctively that some things are right and some things are wrong. But how do we know that?

Well, some people say that a certain ‘truth’ is okay for you but not for them—they FEEL a different way about it, so that determines “truth” for them. They say that you’re entitled to your ‘opinion’, and they’re entitled to theirs. But, let me try to illustrate how this tends to be a ‘problem’ for most of us in real life.

Just imagine, for example, that you put the new “iPhone” you just got for Christmas in the locker at the local Life Time. After a great workout, you come back to discover that someone has stolen it. How would you ‘FEEL’ about that? I’ve got to believe that you would ‘KNOW’ that you were wronged! I can’t believe that you would, all of a sudden, become overwhelmed by a feeling of ‘tolerance’ and think to yourself that the thief was ‘entitled to his opinion’ that he doesn’t think stealing other people’s things is wrong. No, you would appeal to an ‘objective sense of justice’ because you would claim that you had suffered an injustice—and you would be RIGHT!

So then, when are feelings ‘reliable’ and represent truth?

Webster defines truth as “immutable; unwavering; indisputable; actual state of matter; transcending perceived experience; agreement with a standard or original.”

Would your ‘define’ your feelings to be like what Webster said about truth all the time? Unwavering? Immutable?

I think all of us can agree that feelings tend to be ‘fickle’—fluctuating with your mood, your health, your circumstances, or just the weather. Not only do they change, they ‘lie’.

For example, Country music star Jim Reeves and his piano player Dean Manuel took off from Batesville, Arkansas. Reeves was piloting his Beechcraft Bonanza, and their destination was Nashville, Tennessee.

A storm quickly arose and buffeted the small airplane. Then at about 5 p.m., the plane disappeared from airport radar, just ten miles from Nashville. Two days later, the wreckage and remains were found in a heavily wooded area.

The official report said that pilot error was the cause of the accident—Reeves was only qualified to fly during clear weather, not in storms. Reeves had probably experienced vertigo during the storm—the disorienting sensation caused by an imbalance to the inner ear caused by the person leaning in one direction. While in the dark clouds and the buffeting of the storm, Reeves could not discern what was up or what was down. His inner ear probably gave him the sensation that he was in a turn and he overcompensated by turning the aircraft in the opposite direction, putting the aircraft into a spin. If Reeves had been trained to fly with instruments, he would have been able to overcome this FALSE FEELING of orientation.

Experienced pilots know that when you fly by the “seat of your pants”—by what your senses tell you—you can quickly get into a lot of trouble. You only get out of trouble when you look at your instruments, trust them, and ‘override’ your feelings.

Now, let me say that there is nothing ‘wrong’ with people desiring feelings, emotions, and experience. In fact, the lack of experience, in itself, is an experience. The lack of feeling is a feeling. The lack of emotion is an emotion. Yet, feelings and emotions are an ‘AFFECT’ and not a ‘CAUSE’—and sometimes very ‘ingrained’ and hard to change.

For centuries, people believed Aristotle’s ‘opinion’ that the heavier an object was, the faster it would fall to earth.

According to a report I read, in 1589 Galileo challenged Aristotle’s teaching. He invited learned professors to the base of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Galileo went to the top of the tower and pushed off a ten-pound and a one-pound weight. Though both landed at the same instant, the professors still wouldn’t believe what they saw. They insisted Aristotle was right!

This is one of those cases of people believing what they want to believe. It’s like the old saying, “Don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up.”

Some of us avoid facing facts because they’re too threatening. Others of us don’t face reality because we’re told we can’t do what we want.

I’m a great believer in acknowledging feelings but I can’t always trust my interpretation of them. Sometimes I just need to face the facts, grit my teeth, and do the right thing.

So, how do we know a thing is right? What ‘truths’ are right for all people, for all times, for all places? What can we use as a ‘standard’ for truth?

In the town of Sevres, a suburb of Paris, is the headquarters of the “International Bureau of Weights and Measures”—an organization that establishes the ‘standard’ for physical measurements around the world.

So, if you go to the store to find a carrying case for your new iPhone, and the salesperson measures it with his ruler and says that it is 4.5″ long by 2.5″ wide by .5″ thick (actual iPhone size). But, when you get it home, it’s no where near big enough. How would you determine that the salesperson’s ruler was wrong? You would appeal to the ‘objective standard’ (in Sevres, France)—you would refer to the ‘original’.

So, how does one know anything for certain? What ‘evidence’ would one need to accept as absolute, conclusive ‘proof’ that our beliefs are true?

Do you recall what Webster said truth was?—“being in accordance with fact and reality.”

As I’ve said before, most of us have a pretty good grasp of what is ‘real’—and I know Arielle does!

A half dozen years ago she was on a skateboard going down a really big hill. Well, the ‘reality’ of pavement is that is it hard—really hard—and when body parts hit it, they break! Arielle ‘witnessed’ the truth of this and had a broken arm to show for it.

So, evidence shows how a ‘concept’ or opinion corresponds to reality—regardless of our ‘feelings’ about it.

An example of this might be how I ‘require’ everyone that rides in my van to have their seatbelts on. Some kids ‘protest’ that their parents don’t require them to buckle up, or that it’s uncomfortable to wear them. Their attitudes reflect a belief that I’m only making them wear the belts in order to make them miserable.

But that’s not true, because I have seen how people were thrown around inside a car and were killed because they didn’t have their seat belts on. My safety ‘regulations’ are for their own good—the consequences could be fatal.

The question is, of course, when determining moral truth, what—or who—is the original?

I would like to suggest that there is only one ‘source’ of truth—God, our “Maker,” the One we just celebrated a few days ago that came to this earth as a baby in a manger. He alone determines absolute truth. His truth is ‘objective’ because He exists outside of ourselves, is constant because He is eternal, and is absolute because He is the ‘originator’ of it.

Now, some people react to God’s ‘laws’ in a similar way to how the kids reacted about my ‘rule’ about seatbelts. They see His ‘commands’ as constricting and confining—they don’t see the ‘benefits’ of His truths. But the Bible has many examples of how people were ‘blessed’ when they followed God’s instructions, and ‘miserable’ when they didn’t.

God has issued these ‘truths’ for our own good. ‘Looking down’ from an eternal, omniscient perspective, He can ‘see’ things that we can’t, and He issues these precepts to protect us from harm—short- and long-term.

Jesus, who was and still is the embodiment of the word “truth,” said of Himself, “I am the way and the truth and the life” [John 14:6].

You see, we generally think of truth as an ‘abstraction’—existing as a ‘principle’ or quality. But the truth is not merely an abstract idea—it is a Person—that of Jesus Christ. The principle of truth cannot be separated from the Person that embodies it—and a ‘relationship’ with Jesus is the ‘integrating factor’ that makes it possible not only to understand “truth,” but to apply it to your life, relationships, and issues of morality and ethics.

A person that has ‘trusted’ Jesus not only has been acquainted with truth, but has Truth ‘living’ inside them! “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you” [Romans 8:9-11].

If you have not yet ‘trusted’ Christ in your life, let me encourage you to do so—it will be the best ‘feeling’ you can ever have, since it is based on THE “TRUTH.”

[Excerpts from: Josh McDowell; Joyce Meyer; Tad Waddington; Don Matzat; Dick Innes ]

If you would like to investigate further the concept of “truth,” visit the following link:
http://www.thesearchformeaning.net/sfm_pres/sp_q6_d1_1of10.html .

Blessings,
Mark

LIFE’S DEEP THOUGHTS (v119) for JANUARY 2009
If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: mbesh@comcast.net

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QUOTES
“If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.”
[Mark Twain]

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen, nor touched… but are felt in the heart.”
[Helen Keller]

“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.”
[Albert Einstein]

You can bend it and twist it… you can misuse and abuse it… But even God cannot change it.”
[Michael Levy]

“Consider the rights of others before your own feelings, and the feelings of others before your own rights.”
[John Wooden]

“The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is.”
[Winston Churchill]

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DEEP THOUGHT:
“You cannot make yourself feel something you do not feel, but you can make yourself do right in spite of your feelings.”
[Pearl S. Buck]

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Hope you enjoyed some of these insights—share them with your friends and colleagues—so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from, and more to share with! Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

“And you shall seek me and you shall find me, if you seek for me with all your heart” [Jeremiah 29:13].
“Seek and you will find, knock and the door shall be opened, ask and it will be given you.  For he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened, and to him who asks it shall be given” [Luke 11:9].

Mark

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Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

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