'There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.' John 4:18
In church we’ve been hearing about how the strength of our feelings shapes our thinking in any given circumstance. It’s really helped me to understand how I’ve responded recently to some difficult situations. Recently I fell flat on my face – not literally on my face as my hands and ribs took the brunt of the fall, but I was badly winded and lay where I fell until I could breathe properly again. Getting up and gingerly walking back to the car I thought about how we cope when things go wrong.
When faced with life’s disappointments is it what we feel that wins the day or is it God’s truth? Guilt and fear can dominate someone who has the Phlegmatic introvert temperament, making it feel impossible to live in truth. I recognised that for a couple of weeks I had known a truth but felt something completely different. Recently I went for an interview for a job that I was sure was mine – in fact not just sure, positive it was a job from the Lord - and I didn’t get it. It raised all sorts of questions in my mind and the inevitable question mark about me. Doubt had crept in, fear that I had not heard the Lord correctly replaced the closeness to God that I had experienced throughout the summer.
Since the interview my mind had searched for an answer. Something to make sense of our current situation and to understand what the Lord was saying. I knew the Lord had a plan, but this only went as far as knowledge in my head. There was another story going on underneath; fear and what I really felt about myself. It had started to win the day and my question mark steadily grew. I recognised that until I faced what I felt and replaced it with God’s truth, I would struggle. I’d heard the Lord correctly but wrongly assumed a job was perfect. The fact that I didn’t get the job meant that there was something better that I didn’t know about. From experience I knew that I would have to talk and repeatedly and consciously replace the lie with the truth until the feelings caught up. I was once given some great advice from a very wise man - when feeling condemned, give no weight to the lie. Respond to the truth even if everything within us is saying the opposite.
Life can knock the wind out of us sometimes, like it did on my run recently. After a couple of days of feeling battered, bruised and very embarrassed I am back to running. In my current jobless situation, I’ve had to look at what I feel and replace it with trust. The size and the weight I give to my question mark will determine how well I do that. I might be rejected several times before I get my perfect job, but I will only cope if my question mark is dealt with properly.
'He says, "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."' Psalm 46:10