Sunday night, my friend Alece put this up on Twitter and the Facebook:

“You don’t feel your way into an action. You act your way into a feeling.” -@pwilson @crosspoint_tv

I understand that this was a quote from a sermon, and I don’t know the entire context this idea was presented in… however this statement (and this idea in general)  gives me mixed feelings.

On the one hand, I understand that our feelings often are fed by our actions. The more of a certain behavior we practice, the more our feelings shape to fit said behavior. Example: the more I sit on the couch and eat bags of Cheetos, the more my feelings are going to be that I really, really want to do that. (Don’t judge me… they were organic cheeto-type poofs.) So yes, there is truth to the idea that feeling follows action.

But…

There is another, deeper part of me that feels that this idea is somehow dishonest, somehow cheating me out of a whole person experience and settling for a stoic life look. There is a part of me that feels this idea is neglectful to the needs our feelings truly speak to.  We have feelings and emotions for a reason. Yes, they are effected by this sin sickness (just like our bodies and psyche are), but they are still a vital part of who we are. If I am to do right behavior in order to change my feelings, what happens when the feelings don’t change? What happens when I don’t love more, fear less, believe better, trust deeper, worship?

Acting my way into feeling feels like just that: acting. It feels like I am lying to my self (or at least to those around me) in order to convince my self of whatever. As I said, this idea strikes my as far to stoic. I can’t discount my feelings, even when they are wrong. Yes I want to see my heart changed and my emotions moved. But behavior isn’t the final solution. Modifying what I do may not ever truly touch the need, the reason for these emotions.

Maybe I’m off here. Maybe I’m just too sentimental, too undisciplined, feel too much for my own good. All I know is feelings matter. Acting to feel seems to deny this to me, even though I agree that behaviors feed feelings.

What do you think?