yesterday, for various reasons, i was feeling pretty dismal. depressed, disconnected, dejected — i’d decided that nothing was figure-outable and i was worthless and life was pretty much uninteresting and uninterested. and my feelings were backing that conclusion up, cheering me on: “yeah, yeah, that’s right, isn’t it?” “luke, trust your feelings.” depression: it’s the new black.
feelings make harsh taskmasters. for one thing, they’re entirely internal, but they screen and filter all of your incoming perceptions. so although they have absolutely no bearing on the nature and make-up and temperament of the external world, you’re stuck perceiving the external world through them, and it can be hard to convince yourself, in the moment, that the external world isn’t exactly as you *feel* it is.
think about it, though: the world is what it is, regardless how you *feel* about it. so if you feel depressed, that doesn’t mean the world is any different than when you feel, say, ecstatic. and the logical conclusion is that you shouldn’t use your feelings to make determinations about objective things, like whether or not things are good or bad, or how valuable you are, etc.
anyway, my wife graciously took stock of my mood and suggested going out and spending some time alone with the bible, trying to force another screen for the world and counter my feelings. except the first coffeeshop was closed, and the second coffeeshop was packed to the gills and not the best place to get some solitude, and ultimately i found myself, dejected and desperate, at
the record store.
now, you know where i’m at with music. i’ve just recently started listening again, but carefully, and i haven’t bought an album in over a year, and i’m not sure i’m supposed to start now. plus we’re on a budget and i’d just told the kids we couldn’t get slurpees after church because we’re trying to watch what we spend, but i thought to myself, “maybe they’ll have that dead texan album, and maybe one more, that innocence mission album, and if they do i’ll just buy them and it’ll make me feel better.” i tried to rationalize it, like, “i’m listening to an old, pirated copy of the dead texan on itunes anyway, and if i buy it i’ll just be making an honest man of myself.” also, i’ve never seen the dead texan in the used bin before, ever, though i’ve looked, and so i didn’t expect to find it and that made my trip into the store harmless, right? i’d walk in, get disappointed, walk out and no one would get hurt.
wouldn’t you know it: they had both albums. $15, all told. and i’d promised myself, if they had them, i’d buy them. so i put it on the credit card and went out to the car and tried to read the psalms. and i read one or two, and looked at the two cds, and the cd inserts, and thought about how i’d tell zena i bought two albums, and what that said about my time and my state of mind. and i knew that record-store-shopping is classic coping behavior, for me, and here i am: depressed, and with two new cds that i can’t afford and don’t need and which are completely out of line with my whole spiritual milleau for the last year anyway. and i began to feel the prompting of the holy spirit to just: take them back. beg the store owner to let me return them. be done with this and be at peace again.
i did that. i told him i thought they’d give me peace, but then i had no peace, and anyway i bought them with money i don’t even have, and so if he could find it in his heart to take them back…? and this guy, he looked at me and said, “aha. medicated spending. yeah, i’ll take them back. if you want to practice what they call ‘fiscal responsibility,’ well, i guess i can dig that.” and i suppose it’s god’s grace that the owner of my local record store follows jesus, although he doesn’t make a big deal about it, except one time he let it slip in a conversation a few years ago. and small mercies go a long way toward slipping past the screen of your feelings. i didn’t feel better right away, but later i did.
anyway, that’s the story of yesterday. no moral, but pay attention. your feelings do not define reality.