Amy Eksteen

I was planning to write about something completely different this week, but to my surprise, another topic grabbed my attention and I felt that I needed to write about it.

I came across a piece of writing that highlighted something of importance to me and I guess it perfectly put into words what I have recently been experiencing and learning about in my personal life. So, I thought it would be a good idea for me to share my thoughts in this weeks blog post, just in case anybody else needed to hear or think about the meaning behind this piece of writing too.

I would like to start off by saying that life itself, in all its uncertainty, can be quite difficult to understand. In my opinion, it often feels just like a roller coaster ride, filled with many ups and downs and unexpected twists and turns. We may find that this ‘roller coaster ride’ we get to call life can even leave us feeling a little dizzy too, not really able to figure out what’s happening around us. We may find our roller coasters slowing down and then speeding up when we least expect it, dropping through tunnels and sometimes leaving us dangling upside down. It’s enough to leave us filled with many emotions.

I know that personally, after experiencing all of the emotions that come along with the ups and downs of my own roller coaster ride, I can find myself feeling pretty overwhelmed with all the different emotions that I feel.

Emotions and feelings, after all, can be quite complicated things. They are things we experience often, showing up randomly and sometimes all at once. We may find ourselves battling through the ‘not-so-happy’ emotions and wishing that the happier ones stayed a little longer than usual.

I believe that we don’t get much of a chance to normalise the fact that we all experience moments in our lives where our days, our ‘sky’, feels like it is filled with dark clouds. And on other days, our sky, might be clear. On these days, we are able to appreciate the white fluffy clouds and beautiful sunrises and sunsets with all their miraculous colours. I feel like this is what makes life so extraordinary – not every day is meant to be filled with sunshine, for the rain and storms can be beautiful too.

With that being said, I wanted to share this piece of writing by John Piper because it has helped me during my many emotions and feelings. For this reason, I want to share my thoughts on this piece of writing because I believe that it can be used as a great reminder to us, especially during the times where we may be feeling challenged by our own roller coaster rides and heavy clouds.

“My feelings are not God. God is God. My feelings do not define truth. God’s word defines truth. My feelings are echoes and responses to what my mind perceives. And sometimes – many times – my feelings are out of sync with the truth. When that happens – and it happens every day in some measure – I try not to bend the truth to justify my imperfect feelings, but rather, I plead with God: Purify my perceptions of your truth and transform my feelings so that they are in sync with the truth” (John Piper).

What I love most about the writers choice of words in this piece of writing is that he reminds us, in the very beginning, of what is most important – God. The writer reminds us that God should be where our focus begins and ends. I think that this is so vital, in a busy and chaotic world that is filled with many distractions.

I feel as if the writer is saying that when we experience moments of uncertainty, challenging circumstances and overwhelming emotions, it can often leave us vulnerable to believing lies – about our life, past, present and future, about our personal journey, about ourselves, about others and even about God. I think that these moments create the perfect opportunities for us to breathe and stay calm in the understanding that sometimes our perceptions, our thoughts, feelings and emotional responses aren’t always rooted in the truth.

I think the writer is especially right when he explains that “our feelings are often echoes and responses to what our minds perceive”. And because we are all, thankfully, quite imperfect people, what we perceive isn’t always the truth and therefore our feelings won’t always be rooted in truth either. And I think that on some level, we do all experience those ‘out-of-sync’ feelings.

While I believe that it is good to be self-aware in order to acknowledge your circumstances and the specific responses and feelings they can create so that you are able to cater to your needs, I also think that what is most important is to show yourself a little mercy and grace too, just like God chooses to do for you. Rest in the assurance that you get to ask God to always remind you of His truth, every day. He will not let your circumstances consume you, along with your perceptions, emotions, feelings and responses, especially if they aren’t rooted in His truth. There is always a way to cope with your circumstances, even if that means asking for help along the way. After all, roller coasters aren’t meant to be experienced alone.

I know that when our skies are filled with dark clouds, when we experience our sad and unhappy days or sudden ‘dips and drops’ on our rides, we start to think that our negative feelings will last forever and so we begin to think that our circumstances will last forever too. We begin to believe that the clouds just won’t part. In those dark and stormy moments, it’s hard for us to lift our heads above the clouds – to lift our heads above our circumstances and to view our situation the way God sees them. After all, we don’t get to see what He sees and I sometimes take comfort in that, believing that there is a purpose in His decision to protect us from the unknown.

What we do get to hold onto, in those moments of ‘gloom’, the ‘not-so-joyful’ parts of our journeys, the parts of the roller coaster that want to make us scream and cover our eyes, is that we don’t have to shy away from our moments of weakness and vulnerability since God’s power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). If we don’t know where to turn to, we get to turn to His word, where we will always find the truth. We can also find comfort in the fact that there are still bright, colourful skies waiting for us and that there are always moments of joy to discover on our roller coaster rides.

All my love xx