The other morning, my husband came to the breakfast table with his Kindle. He pronounced that he had a word for me from A.W. Tozer. This pronouncement was made with a smirk on his face, so I knew there would be both truth and irony embedded within it.
He read these words: “I have had people tell me very dogmatically that they will never allow ‘feeling’ to have any part in their spiritual life and experience. I reply, ‘Too bad for you!’ I say that because I have voiced a very real definition of what I believe true worship to be: worship is to feel in the heart! In the Christian faith, we should be able to use the word ‘feel’ boldly and without apology. What worse thing could be said of us as the Christian church if it could be said that we are a feelingless people?” (A.W. Tozer, Whatever Happened to Worship: A True Call to Worship, Chapter 7)
When Doug read this quote, he completely hammed up the “TOO BAD FOR YOU!” line, so that I could hear his heart towards me. I could hear my husband’s kindness and patience with my feelings as they skate all over the rink of extremes, especially during this season of transition. He works hard to give weight to the value in my feelings, just as I work hard to see the need for all of his facts.
You know, men and women are pretty different. Yesterday, I had the privilege of spending the day with Doug and our 11 year old boy. It was great. The facts were flying and the feelings were few. By the end of the day, I even knew how a Neti pot worked and had seen it in action. My men were safe and sound knowing their worlds were in order and the facts were lined up, even down to the facts of nasal decontamination.
As we’ve moved toward Clarkston, my feelings have been riled up. Excitement, despair, hope, anxiety, giddiness, discouragement. As we’ve moved toward Clarkston, Doug’s facts have been riled up. Spreadsheets, contracts, notebooks with tabbed dividers, conference calls, and more spreadsheets. When things get dicey, I spin my feelings up so that they become my only reality. He spins his facts up so that they become his only reality. We are totally, painfully typical.
This week, I’ve been thinking about the fact vs. feeling / man vs. woman / head vs. heart thing. I thought about it when we realized our house is over-priced and Doug predicted we’d need to solve the problem by planning very thoroughly, while I simply wanted to play through the scenarios of what it would feel like to have to drop the price. I thought about it when Doug shared the facts of our shared vision with a group of folks we had in Clarkston yesterday. I thought about it when I left a Clarkston city meeting daunted by the feelings raised by opening doors to 15 new relationships in one evening’s time. And, I thought about it when we closed on the first home in our subdivision on Thursday (yeah!!) and my heart produced a celebratory thank you note to our buyer, while Doug’s fingers typed instructions for a wire transfer. Facts and feelings.
Jesus talked to us (men and women, both) about distractions. He said, “The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.” (Luke 8:14-15)
I think Jesus knows lots about facts and feelings. I think He knows that the worries, riches, and pleasures of this world will cause us to claim either fact or feeling as ultimate reality, depending on our bent. But, Jesus says that only seed that falls on a heart made honest and good by His redemptive work can hold the Word in the soil of faith, even when facts and feelings buffet. I think He knows and appreciates our facts and our feelings. I think He wants us to experience the amazing grace that happens when roots of faith anchor them both, and we begin to grow.