During a recent gathering with friends to share our latest achievements and family tidbits, one person removed their phone. They flashed an image for us to see, commenting about personal fragmentation, political polarization, and societal demise. They leaned forward in their chair, arms waving faster, voice escalating, and face reddening with each word.
I viewed the image. Though I didn’t share its sentiment either, I didn’t feel our friend’s rage. And as they continued, I observed that their intellectualizing halted our conversation and shattered our connection. Where we’d been invited to celebrate some joys, now we were bystanders in a discourse about the world’s problems.
When I asked our friend how they felt, they paused. They stared at me and repeated what they already said. Then I realized: They couldn’t tell me how they felt (I imagined anger, horror, sadness, shock, among others) because they were disconnected from their feelings.
Alas, this is true of many people, especially those in certain clinical, political, and spiritual circles who believe that personal feelings are mushy emotions we must eliminate and transcend as quickly as possible.
However, when we analyze, criticize, and theorize, we keep life at arm’s length, pushing away such feelings as anguish, confusion, disillusion, grief, heartbreak, and sorrow. Sometimes, to bypass the feelings, we make things about “someone else” or “another.” Then the pain can root, grow, and fester in our bodies as headaches, backaches, bellyaches, limps, rashes, or ulcers. Furthermore, our reactions can detach and disconnect us from ourselves and those we love most.
When we’re willing to acknowledge our feelings as the divine messengers they are, we become free to experience life differently, even when we don’t like some of it.
If we’re ready for such an adventure, we can contemplate these questions:
- How do I feel about the particular behavior, circumstance, and/or situation I’ve experienced?
- How are the behaviors, etc., different from mine?
- What, if any, similarities do I see?
- What am I willing to do to mourn the past and accept what I cannot change so I can heal, move on, and invest my time and energy elsewhere?
- Where are the openings to get more of what I love by changing myself or my own perspective?
These questions aren’t easy to answer. They require the introspection and sacred conversations which encourage us to grow in spiritual maturity. They invite us to use the feelings we once believed would hinder us to discern what we need in our lives now, what we love most, and how we want to serve others by contributing our gifts in this world. Especially, they free us to rediscover life’s simple pleasures as we embrace more of the beauty, joy, and wonder we find on our way.
© 2019 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks. All rights reserved.