If I hit my thumb with a hammer, I feel pain.
Shocking, I know.
Pain is an automatic reaction. I don't consciously look at my thumb and say thumb, now is the time to hurt. It just does.
If anybody came up to me and told me to stop hurting, that it was wrong for me to feel pain when I struck my thumb with a hammer, and that it was an evidence I was stuck in serious sin...
Well, we'd probably both say they had some serious mental problems.
You can't help it if your thumb hurts when it is hit with a hammer and people can't expect you to feel anything else; which illustrates why it is so important we think and we help others think very carefully about how we use the word feel.
Let me give you an example.
We use the word feel to describe a whole lot of other things besides our thumbs getting hit with a hammer.
Sometimes we use it to describe an emotion. Say our reaction to someone who hurts us, "I feel angry."
Now is that true?
Yes. It describes what is happening.
But if I stop there, if I say I feel angry and if when I say that, I'm thinking of anger solely in terms of feelings, I'm in danger of making a couple dangerous mistakes.
One, my understanding of what happens when I get angry is too simplistic.
Every time I hit my thumb, I feel pain.
But the same thing can happen to me two times, and one time I feel angry and the other time I don't. Why?
Anger is a feeling, but at the same time it is more than a feeling. It involves my thoughts, my actions, and my perspectives.
Two, because my understanding of what happens when I get angry is too simplistic, I'll get really angry when you try to confront me about it.
If I think of anger soley in terms of feelings, when you come and say I shouldn't be angry, I'll probably respond much like I would if you came and said my thumb shouldn't hurt.
How can I help it?