More Than A Feeling
One of the most difficult things that we have to learn as human beings is how to be patient when we are waiting on our world to change. It's a lesson that doesn't come easily to most of us.
And when I say "world" here, I mean the world within us as well as outside us.
There are all kinds of things outside of us that we can't control---circumstances, people, systems, and the like. And we might very well long for those to change, doing what we can to expedite it.
So we wait, and we do our best to learn patience.
But there are also plenty of things within our inner world that we hope to change as well. We might long for a change of heart, or we long to be more connected to God and others. We also might be waiting on the healing of our mind, body, or spirit, and find that it's slow and frustrating.
I've learned that having patience with the transformation of my inner world is much more difficult than the transformation of my outer world. I'm not all that kind or patient with myself, as it turns out. Most of us aren't.
Author and psychologist Melody Beattie wrote something about this that I recently read. She believes that it is important for us to acknowledge our feelings while being patient, and to give ourselves permission to feel them.
This is easier said than done, because sometimes what we are feeling might be anger, depression, worry, or fear---all of which could very well have an adverse effect on ourselves and those around us.
But there is a difference between acknowledging our feelings and giving ourselves permission to feel, as opposed to ceding control of our life over to our feelings by trying to ignore or suppress them, or by letting ourselves get carried away by them.
Look, I'm no expert at this, I'm just a fellow traveler trying to figure things out as I go along, but I have definitely seen this play out in my own life. Perhaps you have as well.
We often find ourselves praying desperately to God to change our world, take away heartache, give us peace, and help us to feel more connected to God and others. But when those changes don't happen the way we want them, it's all too easy to let our emotions get the best of us.
And that's when we can either make poor decisions, or get stuck in an endless cycle of blame, shame, and other assorted unhelpful things, which can result in damaged relationships, prolonged self-harm, destructive behaviors toward others... the list is long.
The late Rachel Held Evans wrote in her final book these words which I've been reading most days over the last several months as a constant reminder of all of this.
To love oneself well is to be able to distinguish between what one wants and what one needs.
And sometimes what we need isn't to get what we want---either right away, or maybe ever. This can be a bitter pill to swallow, to be sure.
But in the waiting between the now and the not yet of that realization, we must learn to be patient with ourselves and our feelings. We must learn what it means to know that merely feeling something doesn't mean that the feeling defines who we are.
Because we are more than our feelings. So much more.
We are loved and cherished by a God who understands our feelings intimately, and who is with us in the midst of all of our waiting.
And when we are willing to seek and embrace God's presence in those moments, we are also able to trust that God's purposes for us and the world around us are for us and not against us.
May it be so for you today and every day from this day, and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.