I am absolutely certain that God created and called me to be a feeler and an empathizer. He created and called me to be one who thinks about others before myself, to be one who is moved to my core by other’s triumphs and failures. He created and called me specifically and intentionally to be one who identifies with the feelings of others—for large groups, for small groups, for nations, for individuals, for the marginalized, for the broken, for the underdog, for the successful.
In this calling I have found both blessing and difficulty. With it, I am able to empathize with others and to help them, to feel for them and to connect with them. Due to this, there is little more I want from this life than to help others and share my deep feeling nature with the world in a positive manner. However, with this calling also comes difficulty: ease at feeling too much, a simplicity in taking on others feelings to the point that I forsake my own health, to feel too deeply too quickly. I am then tempted to value feeling over truth.
Throughout the last few months I have dealt for the first time in my life with what I would brand as “serious apathy”. I have found myself going from my norm of feeling deeply about everything I hear, every person I encounter, and every word I read, to feeling nothing about anything. I have felt, however, that apathy doesn’t feel right and is a burden. I have felt like my being has been swiped away and dangled in front of me when thinking about who I “actually” am.
For someone who feels deeply about nearly everything, apathy is a terrifying concept. Apathy to the feeler is like the ground being pulled out from beneath your feet and being told, “Find somewhere to stand.” It is the opposite of your core being. In handling apathy I have found it to be one the most discouraging things I have ever encountered (I use “handling” lightly as I really haven’t handled it well).
Throughout my bouts with apathy these past months, there is one thing that I found which prevails over the feeling of apathy and the temptation to value my feeling nature to an uncanny degree, and that is truth. The only thing that I have been able to grasp is the fact that I am in fact called to be a feeler, but also to value the truth over feeling.
In apathy I have found it difficult to worship, to pray, to bring glory to God, and to serve him in any manner. I can’t explain the painstaking attempts at praying and worshiping when I feel nothing. Looking back on these moments from a place of feeling, I can’t help but recognize the sin in my attempts to feel again in my time of apathy. It is like telling God, “Sorry, but I can’t bring glory to you, the one who grants me this breath to live, the one who has given me this life, the one who has redeemed me and saved me from the sin of this world, all because I just don’t feel like it.”
When put in those terms, it makes me come to a place of nearly disdaining my apathy for making me feel this way toward God; however, I stop myself here and am able to recognize his blessing in it. Experiencing apathy has allowed me to evaluate the way I feel about Jesus. To recognize where my focus lies, on feeling and not truth, is not where it should. How this focus should be put on the truths of Christ rather than on my human feeling. Feelings cannot only be misleading, but they are human, and while they are integral in the human experience and allow many beautiful things, when fully relied upon, they are seen for what they are, just that—human experiences.
When we rely on our feelings to be good toward God and rely on our feelings to trust in the truth of Jesus, we will always be prone to be discouraged from our walk with Christ. It is not until we value and recognize the truth of Him–of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us, of Christ who died for us, and of God who orchestrates every moment of our lives–over the feeling of our human tendencies will we be able to find true peace.
From this peace found in truth, comes proof that God will prevail despite our human tendencies. From this peace comes the opportunity for me to feel for others better, on the basis that I live in a place of truth rather than of feeling. From this peace comes a freedom from the pains of apathy and a reminder that these things are ordained by God. No matter my own human feeling, He will always be the one guiding the way. He will always be there. He wants us to dwell on this truth, not our misguided feelings.
We are created and called as God’s people to dwell on the truth of who Jesus is, what and who he died for, and fact that we have been made new in him, a truth that reaches beyond human feeling and overwhelms our understanding. When you embrace that knowledge, you will find that the truth is your only resting place.