Faith for a Feeler

In many respects I am my father’s daughter.

  • For years my watchband was sewn together with dental floss because “it’s three times stronger than regular string!”
  • I can eat breakfast at least three times a day.
  • I like my coffee extra-hot (which is pretty darn hot for an americano that’s made with 200 degree water).
  • This morning as I was loading six bottles of V-Fusion (known as “Granddaddy’s juice” in our abode) onto the conveyor belt at Grocery Outlet because it was only $1.79 (yes, Pappy, it’s true: total stock-up price), I realized, “I’m stocking up.  On juice.  And I’m super-excited.  I’m so my DAD!”

My dad reads a lot.  I read a lot.  Lately he’s been sending me his books so I can resell them at our local coffee/bookstore (also known as our home away from home: the boys’ nightly prayers always have a Chapters trip request for the following day).  I filter through Dad’s reads, pulling out what I find interesting *and* might read: as a mother of three small tykes, that’s a surprisingly narrow category.

The latest book I’ve discovered and have been soaking up is Andrew Murray’s “Living the New Life”.  This is also known as “The New Life” for some reason.  It’s written for “the young Christian”, a sort of manual of basic spiritual formation.  Each chapter is concise, starting with scripture, a small teaching with plenty of scriptural footnotes, questions for individual or group discussion, and a prayer.  In fact, it’s all here!  In the words of my father, “How cool is that?!!” [insert arms going out to the side, palms up].

Today I sat a bit with “The Life of Feeling”.  On the Myers-Briggs indicator, I’m a high-level F (Feeling); as high as I am an F, my father is a T (Thinking).  That has made for some interesting father/daughter dynamics as well as perceptions of Papa God.  Wikipedia, source of all information is true, sums up:

Thinking and feeling are the decision-making (judging) functions. The thinking and feeling functions are both used to make rational decisions, based on the data received from their information-gathering functions (sensing or intuition). Those who prefer thinking tend to decide things from a more detached standpoint, measuring the decision by what seems reasonable, logical, causal, consistent and matching a given set of rules. Those who prefer feeling tend to come to decisions by associating or empathizing with the situation, looking at it ‘from the inside’ and weighing the situation to achieve, on balance, the greatest harmony, consensus and fit, considering the needs of the people involved.

As noted already, people who prefer thinking do not necessarily, in the everyday sense, “think better” than their feeling counterparts; the opposite preference is considered an equally rational way of coming to decisions (and, in any case, the MBTI assessment is a measure of preference, not ability). Similarly, those who prefer feeling do not necessarily have “better” emotional reactions than their thinking counterparts.

I know these are different uses of the word “feeling”, but I find it interesting to think of how they could easily get muddled, and likewise get me muddled.

We do not find the word “feeling” in Scripture. What we call “feeling” the Scripture calls “seeing.” And it tells us without ceasing that not seeing yet still believing–believing in opposition to what we see–gives salvation.”(Abraham), not being weak in faith, considered not his own body” (Romans 4:19). Faith simply adheres to what God says. Those who see, yet have no faith, will not partake of the glory of God. Those who have faith in God, but do not see, will witness His glory.2 The man who seeks for feeling and mourns about it will not find it. The man who does not care for feeling will have it overflowing. “He that findeth his life shall lose it, and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:39). Faith in the Word later on becomes sealed with true feeling by the Holy Spirit.3 (ref)

This seems to be my heart’s cry at the moment: for me and my worship gathering – “Feeling always seeks something in itself. Faith keeps itself occupied with what Jesus is.” What if my day-to-day activities were solely occupied with what Jesus is? What if my worship, individual and gathered, was solely occupied with what Jesus is?

Another dad-ism:  “It’s easier to find a job when you have a job.” Maybe it’s easier to find faith when I have faith, becoming aware of areas where I am occupied with what Jesus is.

I think the point is to retire my preference for decision-making and lean into that Great Mystery despite feelings or logic; this requires faith that I can’t produce but can accept if I’ll just take a step.

 

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