Feelings or Faith?
Everybody get ready to tighten up your thinking caps I’m going to dive into some complicated concepts regarding how feelings affect faith. So let’s go!
The brain and the spinal cord make up the central nervous system, which splits off into the peripheral nervous system. The peripheral nervous system has two channels: the autonomic (automatic), and the somatic (volitional) nervous systems. The somatic nervous system regulates our muscular and skeletal movements, such as speech and gestures. In other words, that which we have volitional (control by our will), control over. Our autonomic (automatic) nervous system regulates our glands. We have no volitional control over our glands. We don’t say to heart, “Beat, Beat, Beat”, or to our adrenal glands, “Adren, Adren, Adren”, or to our thyroid, “Thy, Thy, Thy”, because they function automatically. In a comprehensive, general sense, we also don’t have volitional control (control by our will), over our emotions either. We generally cannot WILL ourselves to like someone who we deem “emotionally” unlikeable.
WE DO HAVE CONTROL OVER WHAT WE THINK, AND WE CAN DECIDE TO BELIEVE THAT WHAT GOD SAYS IT TRUE!
Responding To Life Circumstances
Just as our glands are regulated by our central nervous system, our emotions are the products of our THOUGHTS. Therefore, it is not the CIRCUMSTANCES of life, nor the people in our life that determine how we feel. Rather, how we feel is basically determined by how we INTERPRET the events of life. Between the external stimulus (the event or the person), and our emotional response is our BRAIN (the receiver) and our MIND (the interpreter). Our brain, and our mind evaluate the world around us, and our emotions respond to that information. Let’s look at this in light of stress. When external pressures put demands on our physical system, our adrenal glands respond by secreting cortisone-like hormones into our physical body. This process represents the natural “fight or flight” response to the PRESSURES of life. If these pressures persist too long and our adrenal glands can’t keep pace, then that STRESS becomes DISTRESS. The overall result can be physical, mental, or emotional illness and we become irritable and annoyed about things that normally wouldn’t affect us in less stressful times. Today we are experiencing the consequences primarily in our relationships. Notice all of the extreme dysfunction in our marriages and families and school and work environments.
WHY IS IT THAT TWO PEOPLE CAN RESPOND DIFFERENTLY TO THE SAME STRESSFUL SITUATION?
Some people actually are thriving under pressure in these stressful times, while others are literally falling apart. What then is the difference between them? Do some people just have SUPER adrenal glands? I don’t think so. Although every person is different in his or her own physical makeup, the major difference isn’t in the external factors. We ALL face the same everyday pressures of deadlines, schedules, traumas, temptations, and people who generally get on our nerves. The difference is how we MENTALLY INTERPRET these external situations and PROCESS the data our brain is receiving.
WHEN WE ENCOUNTER DIFFICULTY, OUR MIND CAN CHOOSE TO RESPOND BY TRUSTING GOD (WHO IS BIGGER THAN OUR CIRCUMSTANCES), WITH THE ASSURANCE OF VICTORY, OR WE CAN CONTINUE TO VIEW OURSELVES AS HELPLESS VICTIMS OF OUR CIRCUMSTANCES.
Ultimately, faith in God, NOT faith in circumstances, NOT faith in situations, NOT faith in people, NOT faith in how I feel, NOT faith in what I think, NOT faith in my opinions, BUT FAITH IN GOD, will directly affect how I interpret and respond to the PRESSURES of this life!