not feelin’ it

I’m not sure I have feelings anymore.

That sounds dramatic and probably somewhat concerning, but bear with me and let me explain. My whole life, I’ve been all about feelings. Everything is driven by them. I am one of the most feelings-oriented people you’ll meet (why else would I cry over Bucky Barnes every time I watch a Captain America movie?). I may even be obsessed with feeling feelings. Sometimes I’ll purposely listen to a sad song (looking at you, Dear Evan Hansen OBCR) or go watch episode 87 of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and sob over Mary Kate Wiles’ brilliant rendition of Lydia Bennet. Despite my frequent laments to my friends about how “I really hate feelings” after being around a cute boy with nice teeth, I am obsessed with feelings. I always have been. So what the heck do I mean when I say I’m not sure I have feelings anymore?

I mean feelings about God.

Whoa now. I know what you’re thinking: “Wait a minute, Natalie. Don’t tell me you don’t love God anymore.” Yeah, you should know me better than that. Nothing could be further from the truth. Of course I still love Him. I just don’t have those feelings that used to make me close my eyes and hold out my hands while singing in church. And that’s what I’m talking about here. That’s what’s got me writing a blog post that has no clear direction at midnight. I’m stuck on this. I have been for several weeks now.

I was driving home late at night from Bible study a few weeks back, and to keep myself awake and alert, I started talking to God out loud. (Which honestly is not at all an unusual occurrence. I firmly believe that I am incapable of thinking without voicing those thoughts.) Because earlier that night, I was somewhat troubled by the fact that I hadn’t felt anything during the worship time. And I totally should, right? I was in an okay spot with God. I was seeking His will and not mine. I honestly felt really good about where I was…up until the moment during worship when I was seeing people around me overcome with feelings and finding myself standing there with nothing. This is just wrong. This is not me. I always have feelings.

But, somewhat shockingly, on that drive home, instead of asking God to restore the feelings, I asked Him to help me learn how to worship Him when I don’t feel it. It was an unusually perceptive moment that I can attribute only to God. I mean, I haven’t felt a whole lot of good feelings since November 14th (or maybe the day before that). Ever since then, I’ve been viewing good feelings in a very cynical light. After all, they don’t last. Anyway, in typical Natalie fashion, I remembered that prayer for roughly 24 hours after I prayed it and then it was gone.

Until tonight. As I was brushing my teeth (and purposely conjuring up all the sad feels because brushing my teeth always makes the sad go away), I thought to myself, “Have I really felt much in the past 4.5 months?” The answer is no. I’ve felt a lot of sadness and loneliness. I’ve had some moments when I really felt happy and even–gasp–a little content! But most of my time has been spent feeling nothing.

I’m not going to try to be too radical here, but I’m thinking that feeling nothing sometimes is worse than feeling sadness. Sad feelings can be detected. People see it and do or say nice things to make you feel better. But feeling nothing? That’s not very noticeable. Even to myself. See, that’s the kicker. I feel sadness. I can reach out (though I probably won’t). But how do you feel feeling nothing? And how do you start feeling something again?

And is it even necessary? Do I need to feel feelings? Do I need warm fuzzies when I sing worship songs? Or can I just keep on asking God to teach me how to worship Him when I feel nothing?

You probably thought I had a conclusion for this, but NOPE. No conclusion. I’m muddling through this myself. But for some reason, I felt like I needed to post this. So here I am. Maybe it’ll encourage you if you’re going through something similar. I hope so.