"it doesn't feel right"

alright my female friends, or male cohorts--it's time to enlighten me on a little something. another humble submission that i have no idea in hell about a particular aspect of life or relationship or whatever you want to call it. so fill me in, or further echo your own exasperation along with me. thanks.

i'm talking about that phrase, "it just isn't right." this is death to a relationship. as soon as it is felt you might as well shake the dust and get it over with as soon as possible, right? if it's said then there is no turning back. try to fight it and you're only delaying the inevitable and causing more pain. at least that's how it seems to go. am i right?

unfortunately i've been the recipient of this phrase several times in my day. is this just the new "God is telling me I need to be alone right now" which was the middle-school way of getting out of dating with someone you didn't really want to date? "feeling" is more neutral and less authoritative, but just as passive and seemingly less hurtful. is that the case here? or does it really reflect an actual state?

i guess my first question is just, what the hell is "it"? the relationship or you? can't we be honest here people? oh but it's both isn't it? or neither. it's a compatibility thing. though in truth it's a feeling and it can't really be fully explained so you can't even really talk about it. damn what i wouldn't give for some telepathy.

what is this mysterious magical feeling that must overcome your senses by the third date? or even if it seems to be there the feeling can strike at any moment, this doesn't feel right all of the sudden. it is over! but that is all we have to go on right? that's how we judge isn't it?

you see they say that when it is right it will just feel right and it should feel right because that's how you know that it is right because it feels right when it is supposed to feel right. right?

that's what people say who are still happily married, isn't it? of course, i do wonder if the others said that too--the ones who are divorced now. and they just simply aren't still around to say that it felt right. or maybe they change their story though--like now they say they somehow always knew that it just wasn't right. it was those reservations from before. i wonder if the happily married couples had reservations ever. we just judge the means by end result, but what if our research methods are quite skewed? we believe what we want to believe. we find the support where we want to find it.

|insert disclaimer: i'm sorry if i sound a little bitter here at any point in time--it is not my intention and i don't really feel that way as much as exasperated. so put that fun tone on my sarcasm. cynicism maybe at times, but that also isn't the predominate emotion. got it? good.|

so let's get a little philosophical here. i'll leave the talking about the spirituality of such a phrase to your own judgment, though mostly i would strongly caution associating our own feelings with the will of God--as the two seem to often be the same for many. i guess the philosophical question here for me is what exactly dictates our decision making? do our feelings dictate our actions? or is it our will? is there a difference--yes. but do we just equate our feelings with our will--but only in certain situations? then there really isn't a will then, is there? or it is at least just a slave to our feelings. what constitutes the choices that we make?

some things we might call matters of the heart. these would tend to be dictated by our feelings, because we equate feelings with the heart. that may be misguided for sure. so also may be the distinction we try to make assigning some things as specifically to our heart and others to a more cognitive, scientific decision-making. i think there is truth in that to a degree, but no decision can be made entirely devoid of our entire decision-making faculties. even the most "scientific" decision must have some feeling in it. and vice-versa. but even that duality is oversimplifying. ok that's all for the philosophy--it's not practically helpful here immediately so let's leave it for now.

practically though you can't go forward if it doesn't feel right. you can't force it. it just won't work. and this is true. i think it's a matter of our framework though in many cases. we can't force it through because we have created a pretty narrow doorway through which we must pass. and say the opposite extreme would be arranged marriages, which would have a very wide doorway (though i'm not advocating that). our framework so often is something like seeing God's will for us as eerily similar to a great chick flick. throw a little fear in there about not finding mr. right and perhaps the doorway widens a bit. or worrying that we are settling and it narrows. we have become so diluted as to think that it's all about the perfect romance and everything fitting together so naturally and it being all easy at the start--sure it will get harder but it should be easy at the beginning. because easy is synonymous with good. because it's all about us and how we feel and our comfort and what this other person is going to offer me. ok that might be a bit too far as it isn't always like that of course.

can we change our doorway? our framework? maybe God is far more concerned about you doing his will than finding mr. or mrs. perfect that feels so great. sure God wants to give us good gifts, but we can be pretty picky about what he sets before us. i don't mean to downplay the importance of this decision--indeed our framework has made it even all the more important if we don't want broken homes and pain for our children. it just doesn't seem to be working. romance as we are approaching it has some major flaws, and no one seems to be willing to look at the results and put two and two together.

how do we change our framework? well that is too specific to each one's situation i think. but i don't think a super narrow or extremely broad framework is healthy in any respect. this "feeling right" thing is just one issue that i think is narrowing a lot of frameworks and maybe keeping some people away from the other side of that door. and they can do something about it. don't try to force your way through, but take a look at what you've set up before you. it may not be as sturdy as you may have imagined. and changing the framework just might take you to a very different place once you pass through it.


  1. Have you been watching The Bachelorette? :-)

  2. when feelings occupy the roots of our relationships, whether with Christ or otherwise, we put ourselves in a position to be shaken with the slightest squall.

    feelings are an integral part of our decision processes, so is reason/logic. we cannot divorce one from the other. to do so would be to deny a part of our human existence.

  3. i can't remember who said/wrote this, but someone pretty dang wise said that feelings are symptoms of the heart, not the heart itself. when you equate the two you not only demean the heart to something fickle and unreliable (when in Christ we've become wholly good including the heart), but consequently you either embrace feelings with full force and set yourself on a bucking and dangerous foundation or you attempt to cut them off and become someone who could very well become deaf to the heart of God.

    as far as this dreaded phrase... i don't blame you man. my personal opinion is that it demeans people because it is pretty self-centered (harsh i know). instead of actually addressing why or why not to continue a relationship it puts out an inarguable wall, an ambiguous force that obviously has more power in the relationship than the will of either person. lame. a discerning heart dives deeper and proves accountable... meaning that the person not "feeling it" will actually attempt to discover and explain why and if this feeling has merit.

  4. You're right..."it doesn't feel right" is very nondescript. It could mean any hoard of things, though I would guess it most commonly means "I don't want this". But where would be the fun in life if we didn't ever let our feelings help us choose? Most of all, where does God's amazing exciting, difficult-but-faithful plan come into your "doorway"? Because I know, that you know, that we have a God worth trusting, with everything, even with our biggest and smallest decisions, even with our mistakes. I think I'll ditch having a framework and go horseback riding. You should try that. It's awesome fun.

  5. post-wedding state of mind, much?

    it's a dangerous dangerous place. I've been stuck there since Sarah and Paul's wedding.

  6. haha. I will tell you my opinion. Of the couple of times where I have used that, or almost used that phrase it was because I wasn't sold. Simply put, I knew there was something better, that I din't want to put any more of my fragile heart into something that I knew wasn't going to work. But you can't just say to somebody who you obviously care about, "I know there is someone better." So when people use that, it's because they're looking for the most easy and tactful way out. Well, at least that's how it is with some people. I'm certainly not telepathic...
    Either way, perhaps we can be thankful for that phrase someday. "It just doesn't seem right" obviously signifies the end, which means it certainly wasn't meant to be. Wether that feeling came from a heart in line w/ God's, or purely from fleshly feelings that don't line up with God's heart at all, you still come out with the same outcome.
    I would say to hell with the details of why those famous words came out of her mouth, but instead dance in the glory of God's divine will. :)