July 23, 2013

Nothing More Than Feelings

I have been up since before 3 AM listening to the rain softly falling outside. While it is a nice sound and the breeze was gently blowing in my bedroom window, I do wish I was able to go back to sleep. Prayer was difficult so I just decided to rest in the Lord until I decided to get out of bed at 4:30.  This is probably not good for facing a day of work.

I thought perhaps it is a good time to write a post.  I haven't done so in awhile. Call it writer's block. My journal entries are even brief as of late. I get all these ideas in my head about what to write about, but when it comes time to do it my mind goes blank. It is not that I don't reflect on things, for I do that a lot, but the words just don't make it onto paper, or the screen in this case.

For awhile I have been giving a lot of thought to the concept of feelings. Yesterday I viewed a post on Facebook that again got me reflecting on feelings. Thanks Karla for posting it. It expresses much of what I was thinking about.  I have heard it said, and have also come to the realization on my own, that we put too much emphasis on our feelings. Everything seems to be about how I feel or how I don't feel. Don't say this or that for it might hurt someone's feelings. Feelings are most important, never mind what is the truth. Even within my Catholic circles people are saying that it is all about feelings.  I don't believe that anymore.

I have discovered that feelings can be deceiving and can also keep me from discovering the reality about who I am. I feel hurt by someone, so I shut down, or start feeling sorry for myself. Yet I believe that feelings, positive or negative, can be a starting point for self reflection, for asking the big question, "why do I feel this way?"

When it comes to God, that's where feelings can really get in the way. We often think that God must make us feel good.  Well there are many times when I just don't feel good, when I just don't feel God's presence. This had happened more often in the past few years.  I could have just thought that God has abandoned me, although based on things that have happened in my life I know that He hasn't, but I just don't get those nice feelings with regard to God.  I have come to realize that that's OK. It all comes down to faith.

Faith is not a feeling. My friend Sandy has a favorite Bible quote; "Faith is the confidence in what is hoped for, and the assurance of things not seen." (Heb. 1:1). In 2 Corinthians 5:7, Paul writes, "we walk by faith and not by sight."  For me these passages confirm my thoughts that just as our senses can deceive us with regard to our faith, feelings can as well. Faith is a gift that is available to all who are open to receiving it. Faith gets us though the hard times, even when we feel like all is falling apart, even when our feelings are hurt, or when our feelings are saying that God has abandoned us.

Reading John of the Cross has helped me a lot with regard to relying on senses and feelings when it comes to faith and my relationship with God. When we let go of our desires to "feel good" or to "sense God" and to simply trust in His Love, knowing that He is always with us, that is when we can begin to attain true union with God. And the closer we get to union with God, the more our feelings do not dominate us and our relationships with others. I haven't arrived there yet, but I'm working on it.

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