It did not take long for word to get around that Vontae Davis, cornerback for the Buffalo Bills, retired…during halftime! In his statement he wrote, “I had an honest moment with myself. While I was on the field, I just didn’t feel right, and I told my coaches, ‘I’m not feeling like myself.'” This is language that many of us understand. Over the past couple of decades, we have gone from using the word “thinking” to “believing” to “feeling.” I say this as one who believes in Christ. But there is a difference between the believing derived from faith and logic and the believing derived from feelings. While thinking and logic are long-standing on the historical stage of humanity, feelings are relatively new to the scene. “Believing” (based on feelings) was short-lived as an expression because it was a facade for feelings. Everyone knew it and so everyone simply went quickly to where the idea was headed anyway.
Following feelings (or another phrase, following your heart/dreams) is bad news. Most people’s emotions are left unchecked or untrained. They have not come under the conformity to Christ. Our emotions and affections are often the last resistance to that conformity. After all, we have the call from Paul to not conform to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Or the call to think about things that are lovely, honorable, of good report, etc. Or the call to set our minds to the things that are above where Christ is.
That is because the mind–the thoughts–are to govern our emotions. However, in our culture today, we put the mind on the sidelines and let emotions run with the ball (see what I did there: football metaphor). Our culture gets “offended,” not mentally or logically, but emotionally at any little statement or action. Civility and truth, (both are outworkings of logic) are benched. When we follow our hearts, dreams, or feelings, we end up in folly. We act foolishly.
When Vontae Davis walked off the field at half-time, he knew he wasn’t coming back. He left it to the coaches, from initial reports that I read, to tell the rest of the team. Bills’ linebacker, Lorenzo Alexander rightly said, “It’s completely disrespectful.” Can you see the folly of following feelings? He quits the game in the middle of it like a child (something we’ve instructed our children they can never do), he is too cowardly to tell the rest of the team, and he showed tremendous disrespect to his coaches, teammates, and fans. In his statement he wrote that he meant no disrespect, but meaning to or not is not the issue, he did exactly that. He does not apologize for the disrespect of leaving his teammates high and dry. Feelings: they take us to places we do not intend to go and bring us to the point of doing what we never thought we’d do. “This isn’t how I pictured retiring from the NFL,” said Davis. Maybe so. But then again, following your feelings never goes as one pictures.
On the other hand there is Taiwan Jones. He’s a running-back for the very same Buffalo Bills. In the same game, during the 3rd quarter, Jones recovered a fumble that was in the Bills end zone and in an attempt to get out, lost his helmet and was hit on his head by a Los Angeles Charger’s defensive player. He went down, just about motionless, clearly in agony. Thankfully, he walked off the field under his own power, bloodied but alive and moving. Such a scary moment for Jones and the Bills, and I’m sure that Uchenna Nwosa (the defender) must have felt horrible.
But what we see is a stark contrast between Jones and Davis. I’m not saying that Davis never gave his all, but he certainly didn’t in Sunday’s game. Jones, on the other hand, even having lost his helmet played for the team, his coaches, and fans. I’m sure there was a moment of fear that fell upon him when he realized he was scrambling with his head unprotected, and that fear became reality. Yet, the feeling of fear did not stop him. Nwosa did.
Feelings, emotions, the heart are good things that God has given, but like all good gifts, they must be used for their intended purpose. Like tools, there are purposes for feelings. One is not to hammer a screw, but use a screw-driver or drill. We are not to use a socket-wrench to hammer a nail. Each tool is to be used for its intended function. God has given us emotions for certain functions and may He grant us grace to increase in the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding; may He strengthen our resolve to utilize our emotions rightly.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this matter? Am I too much on the side of logic and need more feelings or am I still too feel-y and need to move further to the side of logic? Am I spot on? Let me know your thoughts.