The more often he feels without acting, the less he will be able ever to act, and, in the long run, the less he will be able to feel.
These are the words, once again, of C.S. Lewis’ imagined devil, Screwtape. I say imagined, but this devil seems real enough. In the line above, he is the young Christian being tempted by Screwtape’s protege Wormwood. The man is experiencing feelings of repentance, but the key, says Screwtape, is preventing him from acting on those feelings.
What good, after all, are feelings if not acted upon? I may have ‘feelings’ of love towards Lindsey, but what good are those feelings if never translated into action? This is Screwtape’s [Lewis'] point. So I read that line and immediately thought about areas of my life in which I often have feelings but rarely act. These are my confessions…
1. I feel bad about not being in shape–not eating healthy, not exercising regularly, not lifting regularly. I’ve always had body image issues, at least from the time I was old enough to be aware (10 maybe). I’ve dreaded summertime for 20 years.
The darkest season was after I got married and hit 225lbs…It’s true that muscle weighs more than fat, which means I had a lot of fat because it wasn’t muscle. Lindsey spoke in love and truth: “I love you. You’re fat.” It was the best thing she could’ve said. No tip-toeing around. No false flattery. And I love her for doing that.
We moved to California and I started running. I. Hate. Running. But I lost 40lbs and learned to tolerate it. I still wasn’t happy with how I looked, but it was progress.
We started getting pregnant, though it was mostly Lindsey getting pregnant. As a loving and supportive husband, it is my duty to eat what Lindsey craves. So as her belly expanded with one baby and then a second and now a third, mine did/is too. So it’s time again to put some doing to my feeling.
2. I feel guilty over how much money we spend eating out, whether fast food or sit down (though sit down is like torture with two kids 2 and under). We talk about the possibility of adopting a child, but we don’t even support a child through something like Compassion International. Yet, we spend two kids worth of sponsor money on convenient, unhealthy food each month. When will the feeling turn into acting? When does conviction bring a change?
Some would call me a fundamentalist for believing in a literal devil, aka Satan. But I’d call them something in return…in love, of course. But I believe because I sense the attacks and temptations.
When I get up at 5am to workout, the temptation is framed this way: “You can run tonight when the kids go down [no way that's happening] or just take the day off and run tomorrow. You should read your Bible instead. That’s the holy thing to do.” What the what?!? Did I just get tempted to not act on my feelings with Bible reading of all things?
There’s great satisfaction in hell when you or I feel the need to make a change or take a chance and don’t do anything about it.
So what are you feeling?