Having been in the UK for over a month without once having to venture into central London, it was with great reluctance that I made, what is these days the most unwelcome of excursions, last week.
My journey centered on having to pass through Victoria train station. Upon getting there, I was overcome by a well of emotion – one just as powerful and intense as I’d experienced on Thursday, 13th June, 2013, during the funeral service of my late dad. For some reason, I was overcome by the memory of walking through Victoria’s national rail station with him, on our way to the underground many many years ago. He had asked me to go with him, so as not to get lost. He must have been in his mid to late seventies at the time, and I will never forget what he said to me as we walked.
“Many years ago it was me accompanying you, in order to guide and protect you. Now it’s the other way around. Thank you, Segun.”
For some reason I was so touched by those words. I guess the emotions never disappeared, as they were just as acute and intense when they re-surfaced last week. In-fact, being reconnected with such powerful feelings was so overwhelming that it took several minutes for me to realise I’d not only stopped in the middle of the station, but had remained stationary for some considerable time, as I gazed at the stairwell leading to the underground with teary eyes – as though reliving that precise moment all over again.
Feelings are powerful. Not only do they possess a seemingly insurmountable force to hold us so firmly that we quite literally loose our minds, but they never actually disappear.
You come across an old flame on face-book, and all of a sudden, feelings/ emotions you didn’t realise still existed, find their way to the fore.
You bump into someone that had a knack for making you feel unsure of yourself when you were much younger, and suddenly you realise your new-found security may not be so sure after-all.
Or in my particular case, certain environments / places / situations making me want to have a cigarette.
We’re all susceptible to certain triggers that conjure-up what are at-times unwelcome memories. Memories so powerful, we not only ‘feel’ as though we’ve made zero progress, but which lead us to believe we’ll never be free of our past.
But the thing about feelings is that’s all they are – feelings. No matter how powerful, they cannot, and do not determine who you are today, or who you’ll be tomorrow.
I want to dwell on ‘the chase’ for a few minutes. I call it ‘the chase’ because it’s what most of us spend our lives doing – chasing love, chasing happiness, chasing peace, chasing that spiritual high, chasing relevance, chasing power, chasing success, chasing wealth etc etc. Why? Because we believe we’ll feel great/ fulfilled, once we’ve acquired them. In other words, we spend the vast majority of our lives chasing ‘feelings’.
Unfortunately, not only can feelings be somewhat fleeting, but they’re very rarely based on truths. Rather, they’re usually founded on our comparisons with others – what people think, how things may look, what the media says, and as such how the world and her other believe we should live our lives.
I heard the very unfortunate and sad story of a young entrepreneur a few years ago. He was driven by an insatiable desire to impress his dad. He vehemently believed the more he acquired, the more his dad would approve of him; and as such the happier and more fulfilled he’d be. His was a life of ‘chasing approval’. Unfortunately, his acquired wealth did little or nothing to impress his dad. On the contrary, what his dad really wanted was for his son to simply be himself. The young man tried and tried, growing more and more frustrated, confused, and depressed as his ‘chase’ intensified. Until one day, he decided he could no longer go on, and took his own life.
You see, the more we spend our time / lives ‘chasing feelings’, the more we put ourselves in danger of angst, frustration, discouragement, and acute depression.
This message was inspired by Hillsong (damn, those guys good! I pray I’m able to attend one of their services in Australia one day). Can’t remember the name of the song, but at the start of it, the lead vocalist says ‘Lord, we’re not here to praise you in order to feel good…’, or words to that effect. Upon hearing those words, I realised most of us, myself included, are never really at peace. The only true peace comes from the knowledge of God’s unconditional love. And yet, we spend so much time trying to somehow confirm this love via the ‘chasing of spiritual highs’. In other words, rather than simply praising God for who he is, we praise him in search of spiritual highs, so as to ‘feel’ loved. Are you getting this?
The reality is, spiritual highs will come and go. Whereas God’s love is always present – no matter how you feel. Indeed, the irony is that the ultimate spiritual high is the simple knowledge of his unconditional love for you.
So, what’s my point?
Feelings, no matter how powerful, will come and go. Negative feelings, in particular, never truly disappear. They will surface from time to time – stirred into life by anything ranging from places, to music, to smells, or people. But your feelings don’t determine who you are. Neither do they have a say on your future. God has not only made you his precious child, but he loves you, no matter what.
In an age in which we daily yearn for the approval of friends, family, bosses, pastors, society, and the world in general, often leading to anxiety, abject disappointment, and a distinct lack of peace, we need to let go of ‘the chase’, and embrace the only approval that truly matters – that of our Father In Heaven.
No matter how inadequate you’re ‘feeling’ right now, the truth is, God not only made you in His own image, but loves you just the way you are.
No matter how much you ‘feel’ as though you’ve failed, you can never fail or disappoint God.
No matter how useless you ‘feel’, you are precious to your Father In Heaven.
Please say this prayer with me.
Lord, thank you that even now you love me; that no matter what I do, and no matter how I feel, I can rest in the surety of your Unconditional and Unfailing Love. Reveal to me those things I should no longer chase. And please open my eyes so that I may see myself as you see me, In Jesus Name. Amen