Sometimes it can be difficult to see beyond what we feel in a situation, especially when our feelings are powerful and threaten to overwhelm us. At that point in time those feelings can become our reality and we can struggle to see beyond them, even though we may know that there is a bigger picture out there somewhere. In last week’s Bible insight on Psalm 42:7 John wrote about how to respond when we feel overwhelmed and cast down, be it by family struggles, deep loss, pain in relationships or buried emotions that suddenly rise up and erupt all over us. The answer is to learn to trust in the midst of the uncertainty because we are safe with the Lord.
Although I know that in my head, I struggle at times to stay on my feet when what feels like a tidal wave of negative thoughts and emotions overwhelm me and keep hold of the bigger picture of God’s love and provision for me. How I feel when I’m struggling can too easily become the only reality I can see and I’ve found keeping my eyes on that bigger picture a difficult principle to grasp and put into practice - until this week when, in a very practical example, I saw clearly the difference between how I felt about something and the reality of the situation.
I had offered to take a friend to the station to catch an early morning train to London. I’m not naturally an early riser so had set my alarm for 7.00am, which would give me plenty of time to get ready and pick my friend up. When the alarm rang I woke suddenly and in a complete panic as I’d been dreaming that it was 8.00am and I’d overslept, my friend had missed her train and I’d ruined her day. The reality was that I was up on time, picked her up and she was safely and happily on the train heading for London before 8.00am. Yet strongly sitting in the pit of my stomach were still the feelings that I’d woken with, of feeling so bad because I’d failed and let my friend down. It was very clear cut – the feelings I experienced were clearly not telling me the truth but that didn’t actually diminish the strength of them for several hours. What I hope I’ve learnt from this experience and what I’d like to pass on is the knowledge that, no matter how strong and overwhelming our feelings may be in certain situations, they cannot be relied on to tell us the truth. They need to be acknowledged and sometimes shared with a trusted friend but we need to keep our eyes fixed very firmly on the truth that we know deep in our hearts.