It’s Not About Emotion

Mouslings_BlogWhen I was little, one of my biggest dreams was to raise a baby animal. Fledgling birds nudged from their nests captivated me. My parents never let me take them in. Most of the ones I found probably had mama birds still looking out for them. My parents also knew that most baby animals don’t survive human efforts to raise them, and they didn’t want me to be heartbroken when they finally died.

Then, a few years ago, it finally happened. As my dad was turning over the garden to prepare it for planting, he accidentally uncovered a nest of baby rabbits. With their home destroyed, he put them in a cardboard box and asked my brother and I if we’d like to try raising them. I was so excited! Until they started dying. One by one the fluffy little bunnies seized up and stopped breathing. It was awful.

That experience was in 2011. Just a few weeks ago, it happened again. My brother was cleaning some wood out of our stairwell (we heat with a wood burning stove), and he flushed out a mouse. The mouse ran outside and all was well. Until he discovered a baby. He took the tiny mousling to me and asked if I wanted to raise it. I didn’t. I learned my lesson with the rabbits. The thought of taking the tiny, squirming pup only to watch it die made my chest tighten. Nope. I didn’t want it. But I didn’t want to leave it to die either. A few minutes later I was online Googling what to feed a day old mouse baby. An hour later, my brother found the mouse’s two siblings. I begrudgingly took them too (those are them in the picture above).

The same change in attitude can happen in orphan care. There is an emotional pull towards helping those weaker than ourselves. You can imagine how sweet it will be. How happy you will be to help. And then you reach out and get your heart stomped on. The person you tried to help rejects you. Your gifts are not appreciated. Suddenly helping the fatherless looses it’s appeal.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz, author of Hope Runs, talked about the change in her attitude towards bringing donations to an orphanage. When she first organized donations, she was excited about it. She felt like she was doing a great thing. And then she witnessed how some kids got left out. How others were disappointed by what they received. How some fought over the gifts. Giving became a lot harder. She started dreading trying to distribute donations or selecting kids for special events.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? –Jeremiah 17:9

This message is the opposite of the one preached by our culture. We’ve all heard people say things like, “How can something that makes me feel so happy (loved/secure/content/etc.) be evil?” Or, “This is the only thing that’s ever made me feel good about myself. It can’t be wrong.” Or, “That makes me miserable. There’s no way God would want me to do it.” Sound familiar?

If we base our actions off how we feel, we’ll quit when the going gets tough. Or we’ll dive into things we know nothing about and end up causing even more problems.

Oh LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. –Jeremiah 10:23

I encourage you not to get sucked in by inspirational stories and cute pictures. Instead, go to God’s word and find out what He says to do. Don’t do something just because it feels right, and don’t quit because your “bunnies die” (aka, the positive emotions disappear). Seek God’s will and guidance instead of trusting your own heart, and walk in His way. If we do that, we’ll become far more effective as servants of God.

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. –Psalm 37:23

Just in case you were wondering, the mouse pups all died. But not all stories have sad endings. One of our bunnies from 2011 survived and we were able to release it back into the wild.

Agua, our surviving bunny from 2011

Aqua, our surviving bunny from 2011

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5 Comments

  1. I can totally relate to this. We had two baby bunnies in 2012 and they both died after we gave them names. 😦

    Reply
  2. You’re so right, Leah. Basing things on emotions ends in broken hearts when circumstances change and emotions flee. That’s the difference between happiness and joy–joy, at its core, isn’t a feeling. It’s something that stays with you in all circumstances. It has its roots in truth and it’s more knowing than feeling.

    Great post. 🙂

    Reply
  3. OnionTea

     /  September 12, 2014

    Before I thank you for your wonderful words of advice, I just have
    to say… DA BUNNY. IS. ADORABLE. I can’t handle the cuteness!
    (whoops! looks like I got sucked in by both your inspirational post
    AND the cute picture XD)

    Thanks for the words of encouragement. I’ll try harder not to quit
    whenever my “bunnies die”.

    Reply

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