Nowadays, the world offers to youths more and more easy ways to have some of their needs met. Christian youths are not exempted from these pressures which come from various domains and most especially from the sexual one. In this setting, living a Christ centered life becomes more of a burden than a delight; especially as we are being advised, or better still, we are ordered to “ avoid the passions of youth, and strive for righteousness, faith, love and peace, together with those who with a pure heart call out to the Lord for help” (2Timothy 2:22, GNB). The topic we plan to deal on fits very well in this context and reads: how to balance faith and feelings as young Christians? In other words, how can a young Christian continue to maintain a good intimacy with God when facing the flow of emotions (which at times is difficult to define whether it be lust or love)? Are there some tips that can be applied when in such an embarrassing situation in order not to trade communion with God for the love of someone? To go about it, wouldn’t it be interesting to begin by defining our key words so the conflict may surface (I), then study some examples from the Bible and learn from them (II), before trying to list some principles that can help (III)?
I – DEFINITIONS AND CONFLICT ARISING FROM THEM
A – DEFINITIONS
After consulting the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English and the online Dictionary, we found out that:
Faith is confident belief in the truth, value or trustworthiness of a person, idea or thing and this belief doesn’t rest on logical proof or material evidence. It is the belief and trust in God.
Heb 11: 1 states that “to have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for; to be certain of things we cannot see” (GNB).
Feelings are emotions and include sentiments (fear, sadness, joy, love…) and resentments (anger, hatred, bitterness…). A feeling is a physical sensation not connected with sight, hearing, taste or smell. It is a particular sensation of the kind of a feeling of warmth or a feeling of pain. To feel is to experience a particular physical emotion.
In our case, they (feelings) refer to the strong drive that pulls a person to someone (of the opposite sex) and causes one to want to be with or around this person or become intimate with him or her.
To be balanced is to have mental steadiness or emotional stability, a habit of calm behavior or judgment. Balancing is being or getting a steady position without falling to one side or the other; it is to consider the importance of one thing in relation to something else when you are making a decision. Do you see the conflict arising from these meanings?
B – THE CONFLICT
Talking about balancing faith and feelings supposes that there is an existing conflict between the two.
Considering the fact that faith is based on the truth that is the word of God and God Himself, it is to be firm and stable. Feelings take us to the very nature if man who is an emotional being too (and thus unstable) and as such, they (feelings) cannot be definitely be hindered or stopped (except one is dead) and thus, they become an issue (a quasi-permanent one) to handle.
How, therefore, can a young believer continue to stand firm, trusting God when facing or experiencing an emotional instability? Before attempting an answer to this question, let’s check out some examples in the Bible and investigate which are the indicators or characteristics of this conflict?
II – STUDY OF SOME BIBLICAL EXAMPLES AND A TESTIMONY
A- BIBLICAL EXAMPLES
Let’s consider some examples from the Bible
1 – Samson and Delilah (read Judges 16: 4-21)
Samson is one of the heroes whose stories are recorded in the Bible. Like John the Baptist, he was dedicated to God from birth (Judges 13: 5). We can, therefore, understand the source of his extraordinary strength. He had a secret.
He had been married but his wife was later given to his friend. He once visited a prostitute (Jug 11: 1-3) and finally met Delilah, a lady who was corrupted by the philistines so she can help discover the secret of Samson, which she did.
Though he disobeyed God and went to bed with a prostitute, God still granted him the grace of being strong and powerful. But this was the beginning of his down fall. He, who knew so well how to keep a secret (see Judges 13:6-9), opened all his heart to Delilah and the price tag was:
God turning his back on him,
his eyes were burst and finally he died.
2- David and Bathsheba (1Sa 11: 1-25)
King David is described by God himself like the “man after his own heart”.
In the above mentioned passage, he was supposed to be at war but he sent Joab with the whole army. As he was loitering around, his eyes caught Uriah’s wife bathing. Although he found out she is married he slept with her and this resulted into a pregnancy. That would later cause him to murder Uriah for no good reason. God’s judgment came upon him and he lost his peace and the child died.
– the king neglected the word of God (Ex. 20:15, 17)
– he was at the wrong place at the wrong time (V. 1)
– covetousness came in and let him to adultery then to murder
As consequence, he faced God’s judgment and the child died.
B – TESTIMONY AND PERSONAL ASSESMENT
- Merveille and Dieudonné
Merveille is a young christian lady who is very active in her church where Dieudonné, a Christian too worships. It happened that they all were in the same group in church and thus practically had the same church programs; that’s how they became friends. As time passed by, they became intimate especially as they realized they had the same interests and passion. So, it came to pass that both were fun one of another and enjoyed spending hours together. One day, they found themselves kissing. They confessed and decided not to do it again since it is not God’s will for them. Merveille in her mind knew she had found the husband although Dieudonnée never proposed to her. They kept experiencing this hugging and kissing and confessing over and over until the day when Merveille heard that Dieudonné was engaged to another sister. Her heart was broken and she cried and cried but she had to accept and admit that Dieudonné never asked her hand in marriage. It took her years to come out of the trauma.
She confessed to her friend that, that boy became the center of her life and God had just some bits of her time.
From the above experiences, we realize that the instability basically results from having neglected intimacy with God (Bible study, prayer, witnessing…) and being at the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong thing. They all bore consequences.
These are some of the causes and/or Characteristics that are generally noticeable:
the lack of consistency in one’s intimacy with God,
the inability to set values or principles and stick to them,
having a wrong order of priorities when we have set them,
succumbing to the pressure of the society in which we live (indicating we are not yet mature).
refusal to admit our real needs and settling for a life of hypocrisy (example: someone praying for God to make disciples using him whereas deep in his heard he wants a woman).
the desire to please a brother or a sister (example : how can I say no to this brother/sister who has really been helping me?).
doubtful situations or relationships (example : when a brother is being unusually kind towards a sister without making his real intentions known).
These and many others favor the rising of the feelings and the sister or brother begins experiencing difficulties to concentrate and focus on God and prayer time become mostly “God, give me this brother / sister”. What if you are in such instability?
- Personal Assessment
In the presence of God, face yourself and find out if there are no loop holes in your life for your emotions to lead you to disaster. Pause a minute and Check out:
With whom are you spending most of your time?
Is your relationship to this person pulling you away or drawing you near to God?
Are you consistent in your Bible study and prayer life since you knew him/her?
Are you efforts geared towards pleasing him/her rather than seeking righteousness, faith, peace?
Depending on the answers you give to these questions, you will know if your emotional stability is at stake or not.
III. HOW TO STAY BALANCED WHEN THE FLOW OF FEELINGS COME: SOME TIPS THAT CAN HELP
If there is a formula to apply in order to remain balanced, it is found in one’s intimacy with God as His child. It is in Him and only in Him that we find the strength we need to face our enemies: the world, the flesh and the evil one.
In the Bible, we have examples such as that of Joseph who stood firm and refused to dishonor his God rather than enjoying cheap sexual pleasure (Read Gen 39:9). Joseph valued his communion with God; it was his top priority and so, he obeyed God’s command in 2Tim 2:22. What if you are struggling with yours feelings for a loved one?
- HOW TO COME OUT OF THE PIT OF FEELINGS (LUST)
Here are some tips that can help you come out the struggle if you are in it (they helped me and I trust it can be same for you too):
Although God can lead you to somebody for help, look up to Him and not to man. He knows you, formed you, is better placed to understand you and rescue you appropriately.
Expose your feelings to God without reserve. He will not judge you, condemn you, nor be ashamed of you; He will understand, convinct and help you because He loves you.
Rely most on your own prayers, it is you who is hurting, others just support you.
Meet your mentor (if God leads you to him) or a trusted mature Christian friend and share, pray with him and have him assist you in your fight.
avoid meeting the loved person in closed places and be disciplined and cautious in your interactions (e.g.: avoiding late night calls)
Believe you will get through; stop confessing it’s above you.
Always have in mind that God values you and that you are precious in his eyes no matter how low you stooped. (2 Corinthians 2:14: But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.)
- SOME PRINCIPLES THAT HELP ESTABLISH STABILITY
If presently you are experiencing some stability in your life, make sure you stand firm by clarifying the following issues in your life as advised in 1 Corinthians 10:12:”So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”:
Put God first in all you do. Let people around you know who you are: a child of God striving to be faithful to Him. Make Him, His word and your communion with Him your treasure.
revisit God’s purpose for your life or seek Him to help you discover it and live for it; refocus on it if need be (Jn 15:16; Phil 3:14; Eph 5:16)
re-examine your priorities and values and verify if they fit in the will of God for you (read Matt6:33, 1 Thess4:3; Rom12:1-2)
Avoid creating space for the devil (flee, don’t try to resist because you are not strong enough); remember Joseph’s example.
clarify every doubtful relationship
Watch out what you feed your mind with. What we see or hear create knowledge in us, which produce a belief, that brings forth an attitude, which gives birth to an action, which becomes a habit which determines a destiny.
Follow the wise one’s advices in prov2:16; 5:3; 6:24; 7:5; 23:27…
Words —› Knowledge —› Belief —› Attitude —› Action —› Habit —› Destiny
Finally, to remain balanced when the flows of feelings come, pause and decide what is most important to you and act accordingly: yielding to your feelings or deciding to honor God above all.
Note: the feelings we talk about here are different from what we experience in a genuine and godly marriage process.