“Many of us spend our whole lives running from feeling with the mistaken belief that we cannot bear the pain. But we have already borne the pain. What we have not done is feel all we are beyond that pain.”
— Kahlil Gibran (1883 – 1931)
Often we think much of capping our feelings in order to control them, and certainly a lot of the time we need to. Sometimes our feelings swarm and threaten to overwhelm us. But what if they did? We might suffer another panic attack. Yet in controlled circumstances we might be able to venture safely into the fear of such an event in order to let God heal us of our fear. I don’t suggest you do this anytime soon without having consulted people trained and competent in such expertise. The point is we fear our emotions to such an extent we’re likely to avoid them, and in the process avoid the healing we could experience for simply enduring the emotion by engaging in the fullness of the feeling.
It’s the same with our thinking. We’ve got everyday opportunities, each moment of every day, where we can engage the senses and become intentionally mindful.
We may think too much, but that isn’t the type of mindfulness that leads to the power of being present. That type of analytical thought usually bogs us down in dread. Being mindful is the practice of conforming the mind to God-willed and God-glorifying thought — a type of obedience; the practice of prayer, as much as anything is, provided we’re praising or thanking God in our thoughts.
Feeling With All Our Emotions
One way to harness all our fear is to intrepidly venture into the fullness of our feelings. Again, we design a safe place and way of doing it, with safe people around to catch us if we might fall.
One thing that goes with courage, in venturing into the fullness of our feelings, is its polar opposite: vulnerability. We never think that courage and vulnerability are anything close, until we realise that to stand in the presence of one’s horror, we’re both courageous and vulnerable. No self-protection was afforded to us, and to feel the weight of our emotions is an empowering permission we can give to ourselves.
Thinking With All Our Minds
This practice doesn’t seem quite as risky as feeling with all our emotions. But it’s just as scary, as we give God permission to reveal whatever He will during our deliberations.
Thinking with all our minds can produce through us some crazy, inane, and even some insane thoughts. We have to trust them all in the Presence of God within us.
Thinking with such intention is the removal of all distractions, even a meditative state of mind.
We can be more if only we can endure more of what we actually feel and think. There is nothing to be fearful of, and, when we commit to feeling the fullness of our emotion, we empower our mind to think with might. Facing what we actually feel and think is a boon for a self that normally kowtows to society’s norms, where it’s easier to deny.
When we permit ourselves to feel the weight of our emotions, we permit God to heal us, for the more honestly we feel, the better we think, the stronger we grow in bearing our weakness, the greater we enjoy life.
We’ve already sustained ourselves in the rawness of the experience of our pain. Now is the opportunity to feel it for what it was. Now is the time to thank God for the fortitude He gave us to hold up under such trauma. Face it and heal. Do so with your spiritual director.
© 2016 Steve Wickham.