Bible Verse of the Day

Friday, October 07, 2011

Feel Like Living?


“The heart has reasons which reason does not know” - Pascal
(With credit  to Ardis Whiman)
How long has it been since you have allowed yourself the luxury of acting as you feel? The basic human responses, love, anger, laughter, even fear, hold enormous reservoirs of power, but too many of us refuse to trust them. Day after day we leave this rich store of vitality untapped. It is mature and civilized, we think, to be reserved and rational; it is primitive and childish to let go.
But emotional response is not the opposite of maturity. It is the opposite of cynicism and apathy. In this demanding world we can no more get along without emotional power than an engine can run without fuel. “Men and motor-cars, progress by a series of internal explosions.” - Channing Pollock
Emotions are just that - explosions of energy which marshal all our physical and psychic forces. Anger and fear send adrenalin into the blood stream and glycogen to fatigued muscles to restore them; enthusiasm quickens the mental processes; love makes others respond to us.
 Too many of us feel and think timidly; the result is that our lives often seem to lack zest and adventure. So much has been written about our harmful emotions that we have come to regard strong feelings as a sign that something is wrong with us. The truth is that it may be more dangerous to be under-emotional than to be over-emotional. Studies have discovered that depressive, critical people, low in cordiality and lacking in demonstrations of affection, are most often the cause of divorce. They dwarf and inhibit the love which is offered them.


I know of a middle-aged couple who went through the long painful preliminaries of a divorce, only to be reconciled on the eve of the trial. In the judge’s chambers, they shamefacedly admitted they had changed their minds. “Why didn’t you talk it over in the first place and avoid all this grief and publicity?” the judge asked.
Hesitantly the wife, a disciplined and undemonstrative woman, answered: “He was seeing someone else. People told me he was in love with her. I couldn’t have talked to him about it without making a scene. So I left a note saying I wanted a divorce and just went away quietly.” Wearily, the judge pushed useless documents away from him. “Do you see now,” he said, “how easily this might have been avoided if you had made that scene? It’s possible, you know, for people to be too civilized.”
When doctors tell us that our emotions can make us ill, they’re not talking about the big breathtaking drives but about the continual gnawing of little niggardly feelings: envy, worry, resentment, and jealousy. Most people with emotionally induced illness; suffer from the monotonous repetition of many’ small unpleasant emotions which produce anxiety, frustration, discouragement and fear.
Once we have fallen into the habit of nursing such emotions it is not easy to change. But it is a fact that great emotions push out mean ones. In the midst of great joy, deep sorrow, righteous anger and heart-stopping fear we forget our petty, daily grievances. One sure remedy, therefore, is consciously to try to replace little feelings with big ones.

Those who have learned to face the hazards of life, which have been truly and profoundly moved, seldom indulge in petty, self-destructive feelings. The watchful and timid, who try to dodge life’s major experiences, too often find that they inhabit a vacuum.
The changing power of love is well known, but hatred, too, can carry a force that need not always be denied. There are plenty of things in the world which we ought to hate - injustice, cruelty, and greed. “When I am angry,” said Luther, “I can write, pray and preach well, for then my whole temperament is quickened, my understanding sharpened and all mundane vexations and temptations depart.”
Emotion, to be truly felt, must be shared, forthrightly and without shame. How much deeper and more wonderful the experience of love if lovers could more often put into words the feeling they have! Because it is so hard for most of us to communicate deeply personal feelings, the language of emotions must be learned. It is truly a skill, civilized and sensitive. The first step is to give yourself permission to be emotional in words. Too many of us are suspicious of the language of feeling. We tend to think of it as superficial, sentimental, and trite. We are afraid that we will be misunderstood.
But it is a great mistake to suppose that we are happier in our relationships with people if we keep our conversation safe, if we water down our true feelings. Too often we say “thank you” when we mean “God bless you.” Or we say, “He isn’t all he should be,” when we mean he is a scoundrel.
Frankness attracts frankness; honest speaking almost always clears the air and brings out unspoken thoughts. Words that are warm and alive create an atmosphere that is warm and alive. It is a mistake to be eternally afraid to speak on impulse, or to make an impulsive, spontaneous gesture. We need to use our feelings wisely but we should neither fear them nor be ashamed of them. The significant moments in our lives are those in which we feel most deeply, and in which we act as we feel.
God bless ~ SB