The human brain is a beautiful creation--filled with mystery, memories, and more information than we can imagine. If it didn't regulate the amount of sensory input we receive daily, we wouldn't be able to handle it.
And so our experiences get stored away, but there are moments when something brings them rushing to the fore, which can be disorienting.
The other day as I was reading through John Koenig's excellent Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows--a book filled with words that Koenig created to describe emotions that don't have words to explain--I came across this entry:
n. an unexpected surge of emotion in response to a seemingly innocuous trigger--the distinctive squeal of a rusty fence, a key change in an old pop song, the hint of certain perfume--which feels all the more intense because you can't quite pin it down.
I'm confident that we have all had a moment like Koenig describes. We hear, smell, or see something that sparks something within us, and sometimes we don't know why.
Maybe I'm odd, but when something like that happens, I value the cognitive journey that I take when I experience one of those heartspur moments.
I had a moment like that a few years ago when I was driving my son's old car (which used to be mine at one point) and listening to a Smashing Pumpkins CD he had left in the CD player (remember those?).
I was sitting at a crosswalk waiting for some pedestrians to pass through, and the smell of the car, the familiar way it felt to drive it, and the sound of the music brought up a rush of emotions that I wasn't expecting.
It took me a while to figure out what was causing the intensity of my feelings. Still, I eventually realized that I was feeling nostalgic about the passage of time, my son growing up, the changes in my life, and my own uncertainty about the future.
I don't always have an answer for a heartspur moment. Plenty of times, I've felt something intensely because of some trigger or another and never really got deep enough to figure out why.
You may have had similar experiences with heartspur moments of your own. Perhaps your trigger is a sound, a smell, or something you see or feel that sends you spinning emotionally.
You might find yourself tearing up, angry, or joyously happy, and you aren't sure why. But the feelings are too intense to ignore.
The good news is you don't have to figure it out. If you do, that's awesome and may lead to a deeper understanding of yourself. But if you don't, that's perfectly all right. Just feel your feelings. Let them remind you that you are alive and capable of deep emotions.
An ancient Hebrew poet once wrote, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made." This means that God imbues human beings with wonder and mystery. We are complicated and unique.
And there's also this: our heartspur moments can become for us signs and symbols of the Holy Spirit at work, reminding us who we are, inviting us to go deeper in our understanding, and convicting us of ways we might become more complete versions of ourselves.
May it be so. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us now and always. Amen.