Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Surrendering My Feelings

Leslie Basham: Loneliness is one of the hardest things to face. When we're alone, we may face times of depression or"¦

Male Voice: Hey, I've come to keep you company.

Leslie Basham: I'm trying to record a radio program here.

Voices: Yeh, Yeh. I know, I heard you say you were lonely so I thought I'd just come in. I'll be quiet.

Leslie Basham: Okay. Like I was saying, when we are alone"¦

SFX: phone ringing

Male Voice: Hang on. Hang on a second. Hello. Yeh, yeh, we're in the studio. Yeh, right around the corner.

Leslie Basham: There are times when being alone can actually be a good thing!

Voices: Hey, girl, I came to keep you company.

Leslie Basham: What! What is going on!

Female Voice: Are you working?

Leslie Basham: It's nice to have friends around you. But when you're alone, you can do some things that you otherwise couldn't. More importantly, God can sometimes teach us important things when we're alone.

It's Wednesday, July 7; and you're listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Here's Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: It means so much to us here at Revive Our Hearts to receive your letters and e-mails sharing with us how God is at work in your life and how we can pray for you.

I just want to remind you that when you send in a prayer request, we do pray for that request. Different ones of our staff take turns praying for that request. We consider it a privilege to lift you up to the Lord, to help carry your burdens and enter into what God is doing in our life?

I received an e-mail not too long ago from a woman who said: "I am a single woman, but not by choice. My husband went home to be with the Lord five years ago very suddenly.

I have longed for a new man in my life. I keep praying that Jesus can be enough for me, as everyone tells me He is, but I just don't feel it. What am I missing? I get tired of being alone in a crowd so I usually end up staying home. I wonder if anyone will ever love me again."

Well, that woman is "single again." We are talking with women this week who have never married or who are single again or with married women who may experience real loneliness in their marriage, perhaps married to a man who is not a believer. These issues can be true whether married or single.

But this week we want to focus particularly on the challenges and God's perspective on the subject of singleness.

Here to help us with that subject is Dr. Amy Baker who has been a biblical counselor for many years. She's counseled women and children in many different seasons of life.

Amy, I'm so grateful for your willingness to take the time out and be with us on Revive Our Hearts this week.

Amy Baker: Thank you for the opportunity, Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And you not only have a biblical perspective which is where all counseling should start and end but you also have a life message in that you're now in your mid-forties and you didn't marry until just a year and a half ago. So you had forty-plus years as a single woman.

Twenty of those years as a single adult woman, waiting and waiting and waiting for God's timing to bring Jeff into your life. While you were waiting, God was doing some really important things in your life.

Amy Baker: And I'm so thankful that He was. I've mentioned before that there are so many things that I would not have learned if God had decided to allow me to be married earlier in life. One of the things that I needed in that time was just to learn to have a focus of giving instead of getting.

My original focus when I thought about life and marriage in particular had been, What was it going to do for me?

I hadn't really thought that the focus of marriage is not about me but about serving someone else and being their companion and their helper. That had not been my focus at all.

I'm so glad God did not allow me to get married before I had that teaching, before I had the opportunity to think through some of those things.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And how as a single woman did you learn to be a giver rather than a taker?

Amy Baker: Well, you know one of the things that I was taught and it began to sink in was that if I couldn't be submissive to my boss at work, how was I ever going to be submissive to a husband?

If I got easily irritated with telemarketers or slow grocery cashiers (when my contact with them was three minutes or less) how was I ever going to be God's kind of long-term wife to someone?

I'm so glad that God allowed those kinds of situations to teach me. God said: "Amy, you're not in any way ready to have a long term relationship with someone if you can't learn to handle these situations."

So God used that time as a single to teach me those things and to allow me to begin working on those things as a single person.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: So he was really molding and shaping your character right in the circumstance where He had you.

Amy Baker: He was. I need to say, "He still is."

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Now He's using marriage.

Amy Baker: Exactly.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And I think we want to add that just because a woman is single doesn't necessarily mean she is not spiritual or that she's not spiritually mature. But we are saying that in whatever state you are in, let God be sanctifying you and using your circumstances as part of that process.

Amy Baker: Right. Nowhere in God's Word does He tell us that His goal for us is to be married. His goal for us is to be like Christ. And isn't it good that when God gives us a goal, He always provides a way for us to do it.

It's not dependant on whether I'm single or married. I can be bringing glory and honor to God no matter where I am or what my circumstances are.

I can be fulfilling 2 Corinthians 5:9 where the author says: "So I make it my goal to please God no matter whether I'm at home in the body or away from it." I can do that, I'm so thankful.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You have hit on something that is so important, Amy. And that is that our objective is, our purpose is, not to be married or to "get unmarried" or to have children or any of these things. Our goal has to be to know God, to glorify God, to be conformed to the image of Christ. If that's my goal, I can never be disappointed.

Amy Baker: Exactly. And life can be very, very satisfying. And I can continually be growing in it--that goal of becoming more and more like Christ and pleasing God.

There are opportunities for me every day to be thinking: Is this pleasing to God, not just in my actions but in how I'm thinking and what my motives are and what my desires are.

Is that really bringing glory and honor to God. Then I have the opportunity to work on that. I can take steps to put off wrong thinking or wrong actions, to be changing the way I think about it and then to put on new habits that bring glory and honor to God. That's something I'm working on every day.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: So how do you deal with the feelings, though? This lady, who wrote this e-mail, she's been widowed for five years. She says: "Everyone tells me God is enough and in my head I know it's true. But I have these longings and hurts."

I am looking at another e-mail from a woman in another season of life who says she's twenty-three years old, single, never had a boyfriend. She writes that she's always had a deep down feeling of loneliness that can't be filled.

"It hurts so bad to not feel wanted." Then she writes: "I know what you're thinking: God wants me and loves me. But every now and then I want someone with skin on to comfort and hold me, not just the feeling of God's presence."

What do you do with those feelings?

Amy Baker: Both women are describing the human experience because God in his wisdom created us as human beings with feelings. Because God created us that way, we shouldn't look at our feelings and say: "Oh, my life would be so much better if I didn't have feelings. If I didn't have feelings, I wouldn't have this struggle and life would be better.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: So we're not trying to get the feelings to go away necessarily.

Amy Baker: No, we're not. But what that gives us an opportunity to do is to learn to live a new and renewed life. In Ephesians 4:17-19 he's talking to the Ephesian church, so he's talking to a group of believers.

And he says to them: "I tell you this, in fact, I insist on it in the Lord. You must no longer live as the Gentiles do." (Gentiles here are people who haven't come to know Christ as their Savior). He says: "Don't live like people who don't have Christ as their Savior, who live in the futility of their thinking."

And then he says of these people: "They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of Christ because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts."

And then verse 19: I think we really want to get this part: "Having lost all sensitivity to God, they've given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity with a continual lust for more."

Basically, what that means is they're living by their feelings, their senses. They've given themselves over to their senses so, if it feels good, do it. That would be giving yourself over to sensuality.

Then that verse says: "And it never satisfies, there's a continual lust for more." And Paul says in this passage: "Don't live like that." Now the wonderful thing about God is that He never tells us not to do something without telling us what He does want us to do.

The passage continues in verse 20: "You, however did not come to Christ that way (by your feelings). Surely you heard of Him and were taught by Him in accordance with the truth."

Here's the key. We're seeing a contrast of, yes we do have those feelings and those feelings can certainly be powerful forces in our lives but we don't have to live by them.

Now sometimes it feels like they are controlling us. But if we're going to live by truth, apparently they don't have to because God says: "You, however, did not come to know Christ that way." Surely you were taught in Him in accordance with the truth that is in Christ Jesus.

So apparently we have the ability to be able to make the choice to either live by feelings or live by truth. And sometimes our circumstances play that out for us in vivid color, in vivid detail and allow us to see, Which one I am living by?

Am I going to live by truth when God's Word says this or am I going to be controlled by my emotions?

I think growing in Christ is that continual struggle that says: "No, I don't want to be controlled by my emotions. There's nothing wrong with emotions in and of themselves but they must not become my master. My master must be God and His Word, the Truth.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And as we've often said on Revive Our Hearts in every circumstance of life, in every season of life, when we're besieged with emotions that we feel like we can't manage, when we feel like our emotions are controlling us, we must come back to learning to counsel our hearts according to the truth of God's Word.

And I find that sometimes I have to take myself by the scruff of the neck and say: "Look, your emotions and your circumstances are screaming this, but here's what God's Word says. This is who God is. God is good. God has plans for your life that are perfect. You can't improve on God's plan for your life."

On and on I learned to counsel my heart according to the truth of God's Word. That's what we read in Isaiah 26:3: God will keep us in perfect peace if our minds, our thoughts are fixed on Him. That's a discipline. That takes effort. It takes rigorous perseverance, fixing my thoughts, heart, mind and affections on things that are above, on God Himself. And then He promises He will keep us in perfect peace.

Leslie Basham: God can give you perfect peace no matter what your life situation. We hope today that this conversation between Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Amy Baker has helped you look to God for peace.

Today's program is part of a week-long series with Amy Baker. You can get the entire conversation on singleness. It comes on CD or cassette for a suggested donation of $8. You can get a copy by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com.

Earlier in the program Nancy read a letter from one of our listeners and explained how our staff members pray over the requests we get. Here's how you can write us.

Visit ReviveOurHearts.com and click on "Share and Interact." Then follow the links from there. When you click on "Share and Interact," you can also find our address listed.

Tomorrow Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Amy Baker will discuss transitioning from singleness to a marriage relationship in a way that's pleasing to God and very beneficial to the couple. Please join us for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a ministry partnership of Life Action Ministries.

 

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.