But it ain’t our feelings we have to steer by through life—no, no we’d make shipwreck mighty often if we did that. There’s only the one safe compass and we’ve got to set our course by that—what it’s right to do. (from Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery)
If I could afford it, I’d have this quote plastered on billboards all over the place. I would put it in subliminal messages on every radio station and during prime time television hours. Listen to me, people: You absolutely cannot trust your feelings to guide you through life.
You know, sometimes I feel like wringing my husband’s neck. Sometimes I feel like running away to the beach and not telling anyone where I am. Sometimes I feel sorry for myself. Sometimes I feel so angry with someone I could just scream. Sometimes I feel like slapping someone or giving them a piece of my mind. Sometimes I feel like spending all of our savings on something that won’t last (like a stay at the Mansion on Turtle Creek). What if I just did whatever my feelings were leading me to do? Shipwreck. That’s what.
My feelings are variable. I can feel elated one minute and then devastated the next. I can have a great day and then be plummeted into sorrow in the space of time it takes to receive bad news. My feelings can get totally confused by my hormones and I can find myself weeping through an episode of The Cosby Show. Sometimes I feel nervous and excited at the same time. Feelings are just weird. You can’t trust ’em.
So you have to know what the right thing to do is. And you have to do it. I have been around enough people to know that I am not the only one whose feelings cannot be trusted. It is universal. You do not always feel loving toward the people who you love. Does that mean you are allowed to do irreversible damage to them by spewing the words you know will cut the deepest? Or worse, does it mean that you are allowed to abandon them and find someone else who makes you feel better (for now)? No. In case you are confused by this, the answer is NO. Sometimes it’s hard, but the answer is still the same.
I am so tired of seeing this happen especially marriages. To quote Beth Moore, “Marriage is dang hard.” But it is a commitment. You can’t just decide you don’t feel like doing the dang hard work of keeping your promises. There comes a point at which you just have to let your grown-up knowledge of what is right do your steering even if your crazy emotions are trying to pull you in another direction. And though it is hard, doing the right thing has its own rewards.
I’m not saying that divorce is never the right thing to do. I know that there are dangerous situations that need to be abandoned. I know that there are times when you’ve done the right thing but your spouse has not and you just have to find a way to exit with some grace and dignity. So don’t think I’m coming down on any and all whose marriages didn’t work out. I’m just saying that your feelings can’t be the thing that decides that. Love is so much more than a feeling. Do the right thing and let that be your compass. What is right to do. You know what that is, don’t you? And if you get confused, for goodness sake, ask for guidance. There is no shame in saying, “I cannot see past my own feelings. Someone give me some perspective.” You know, you could even pick up a good children’s book to give you some good solid wisdom about doing the right thing.
<<<End of Rant>>>