Faith good, feelings bad

“These were supposed to be the happiest days of my life, and I was too tired, dazed, lost to receive them. What had been starved on the inside to produce this exhaustion?

“I had a growing sense that the problem was me. It wasn’t that God was the hard driver. It was that I was driving myself and calling it God. There was a disconnect between who He really is and who I’d made Him out to be, and all the activity kept me from acknowledging that disconnect.”   ~~Sara Hagerty

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 Everyday has the potential of being the happiest day of my life. Then why, like Ms Hagerty says, am I too tired, dazed and lost to receive the happiness of each day. Where is my joy? Where did I lay it down, if I ever even had it at all? Where is the feeling of love for God? Faith I have, feelings I have, too. But feelings of doubt and worry and fear and anger. Not a joyous note among it all.

In my black and white world I tend to lean toward faith good, feelings bad. But why can’t it be a combination of both? After all God did bestow feelings on His creations; so why do I discount mine? My earthly father had no regard for my feelings and here I am 55+ years of age and still struggling with the imprinting of a uncaring, unfeeling male parental unit. At this point I have to interject here – Parents! Be careful what you teach your children – they will live with those lessons the rest of their lives!

So, in this black and white, faith or feelings, yes or no, world of mine, is there room for grey? For faith and feelings? For maybe?

I’ve haven’t been enthusiastic about anything since maybe I was a child. I’ve always remained neutral (even if on the outside I acted like I was passionate about something). I remain calm, reasonable, middle of the road about everything from politics, to crafts, to celebrity, to everything. For me that is normal even if I’ve occasionally wondered if something was wrong with me. Why can’t I get excited about anything? A sports team? A political candidate? An author? An artistic pursuit?  God? Now I am beginning to suspect it is because I threw the proverbial baby out with the bath water – meaning – when I learned faith good, feelings bad, I tamped down all my feelings under layers and layers of garbage and except for the occasional outburst – there is nothing. If you don’t feel, you don’t get hurt.

And bringing these thoughts full circle, each day has potential for joy and happiness in it – but only if I would be willing to feel it.

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feelings versus faith

Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith.~~ Henry Ward Beecher

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Today has been one of those days where my emotional mindset questions what my spirit knows to be true. Today has been one of those days where I feel God doesn’t love me or care for me. And today has been one of those days where I am mad at God.

All of these statements are based on feelings and feelings change. Change with the whim of the direction of the wind.

Tomorrow I anticipate feeling differently. But today this is what I feel.

It’s a good thing God doesn’t change the way I do. It’s a good thing I actually believe that deep in the marrow of my bones and in the deepest part of my soul.

Today I feel differently than I believe.

Tomorrow I pray I will grab hold of the handle of faith rather than the handle of anxiety.

forgiveness is a continual work

(on going to a convalescent home) I have been going there for four years now. I don’t even really look forward to it, but I keep going back for reasons I do not quite understand. Perhaps I am subconsciously hoping it will help me get into the Junior League someday. Still, the moment I walk in and smell those old people again, and find them parked in the hallways like so many cars abandoned by the side of the road, I start begging God not to let me end up like this. But God is not a short order cook, and these people were once my age. I bet they used to beg God not to let them end up as they have….and I struggled to find meaning in their bleak existence. What finally helped was an image from a medieval monk, Brother Lawrence, who saw all of us as trees in winter, with little to give, stripped of leaves and color and growth, whom God loves unconditionally anyway. My priest friend Margaret, who works with the aged and who shared this image with me, wanted me to see that even though these old people are no longer useful in any traditional meaning of the word, they are to be loved unconditionally, like trees in the winter. – Anne Lamott, Bird By Bird, Some Instructions on Writing and Life

When it is time for the winter of my life, I hope to move through it without any regrets, grudges and old angers. I hope to not be bitter when I am parked in the nursing home hallway like a car on the side of the road. I hope to be joyous even if I am an invalid and have to have someone else take care of my personal needs. I hope to be spending my last days anticipating my Home-going and looking forward to see my Heavenly Parent.

The only way to have those things come to pass is for me to forgive. And let go. And remind myself that I have forgiven and let go each time the old pain surfaces, until, finally, there is no more pain to surface. I am beginning to believe that forgiveness is not a onetime deal, even for the same incident. If the pain goes deep – really deep – we’re talking inner self deep – then forgiveness is a continual work. Like the proverbial onion, there are many layers to hurt and pain and with each one peeled off and cast aside, there is always a new one underneath until we eventually reach the core.

With that in mind, I understand that it is okay to forgive someone for hurting me and when something else surfaces that is a painful reminder of the original hurt, I tell myself “I have forgiven that person and I choose to do so again.”
All pain and hurt is relative to the person experiencing it. In other words, what is painful to me is not necessarily painful to another. The deepest pain is the hardest to heal and forgive. Someone else might see my struggle as futile and repetitious just as I might see their struggle and wonder why it is taking them so long to forgive. We all need to be mindful of how we approach another person’s healing process. God is ever patient; so must we be with ourselves and others.

Help me, O Lord, as I pull back another layer of pain in order to forgive.

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