Feelings—they’re part of the human experience. We can’t completely escape them, and most often we don’t choose the ones we deal with. Whether anxiety, depression, rejection, attractions—whatever it is—we simply find ourselves with certain feelings.
The Danger of Persistent Feelings
The most dangerous aspect of a feeling, however, isn’t the emotion itself or even the behavior it influences. But it’s that the devil uses a persistent feeling to create a script for our lives. By this I mean that he uses feelings to influence the way each of us understand ourselves.
Allow me to use my life as an illustration. In my early years, I found myself struggling with timidity, especially around strangers. This shyness held me back in social situations—I didn’t know how to interact with most my age, and most didn’t want to interact with me. So for years I felt different, rejected and a variety of other things. As these feelings persisted, they became the bullet points on a script I began to believe about myself. Accordingly, I came to believe “different” and “reject” is who I am. I saw them as parts of my identity—an identity of shame.
Choosing a New “I Am”
My born-again experience at 16 years old didn’t suddenly dissolve these struggles. Neither did willpower or merely mustering up more faith. The most decided change in me happened as I grew in understanding of the truth that God’s Word spoke about me. Assurances like: “if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature” (2 Cor. 5:17a) or that “we are His workmanship” (Eph. 2:10a). I learned that these promises are the bullet points on a new identity called “in Christ.”
While I never chose the feelings that I felt, I now had a choice to make. I could continue to allow those old things to identify me, or I could choose to identify with my new identity in Christ, despite what I feel. In other words, I could choose to accept the truth that God’s Word is more real than what I feel. And so I did—and so I do. With this, my “I am” changed from “I am a reject” to “I am a child of God, I am complete, I am God’s masterpiece.”
You Aren’t What You Feel
If you currently battle with something you don’t want, here’s some encouragement: You aren’t how you feel, what you fear or the way you fall. Hear this: Victory doesn’t necessarily mean you no longer feel, but it means you no longer identify with that feeling because you’ve chosen a new “I am”—the great “I am,” which is “in Christ.” And “in Christ” is a shame-free identity no devil can accuse because it’s not about you—it’s about Jesus—the One in whom the accuser can find no fault.