Feelings are not fact. Often, they can’t be trusted. They change with mood, circumstances, even hours of sunlight. Feelings are important to acknowledge, but they shouldn’t “steer the ship.”
Last Sunday, our Pastor preached on Ephesians 6:1-4. In the course of his sermon, he mentioned that he had asked his grown sons if and what he had done – when they were younger – to exasperate them. Ephesians 6:4 in the NIV reads,” Fathers (or Parents), do not exasperate your children (NLT – “do not provoke your children to anger”); instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
I wanted to do the same thing – to ask my adult kids – ages 26 and 22 – if and how I might have been negligent in this way, but I never even got to that point. I was immediately attacked by feelings of guilt.
You see, I experienced my first and worst episodes of depression while my kids were in high school. So as I pondered questioning my kids, I found myself questioning what kind of parent was I, when I was so self-absorbed and consumed with dark thoughts all that time?! I began to search my memory for any happy times, any laughter, anything good that I did those years.
The mind plays tricks, and our feelings can journey right along. I could only think of one or two things – from all of their high school years! – that were positive memories.
Now I know that’s not true. We had many great times with our kids during their teen years. We had lots of laughs, memorable vacations, proud-parent moments. But in those thoughts last week, as I was struggling with my memories, I couldn’t recall but a couple. Depressive thoughts were trying to whisper their way back into my thinking process.
I immediately wrote Romans 8:1, NLT, into my journal: ““So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” Those thoughts of condemnation weren’t from God. They were from the enemy, using my depression against me, bringing guilty feelings where there should be none.
I did the best parenting I could do at the time, which is all we’re called to do. With God’s help and His grace, I was a good mom to teenaged kids. We had fun. We had laughs. We had teachable moments. We made memories.
We’re friends now, which I think speaks to healthy relationships that have grown over time, and those started back when the kids were teens.
Depression is a liar. It whispers untruths, unrealistic absolutes, condemning thoughts.
Even though I’m in a healthy place mentally right now, it stills tries to capture my attention, distract me from the truth of what God says about who He is and who I am in Him.