Monday, July 23, 2007

What We Feel Is Not Who We Are

was the challenging heading of this morning's Henri Nouwen meditation.

Whenever I do Myers Briggs, my F score is way off the scale, so though I know perfectly well that there are all sorts of objective realities beyond my feelings, I really struggle to believe that. Prayer time is "successful" in proportion to whether or not I feel that I've been close to God...relationships rest heavily on whether someone understands (or is able to imagine) my feelings and there is all sorts of stuff that I know intellectually, but tend to discard because, unless head knowledge is supported by - yes, that's the one, feelings -then I simply can't trust it.
Of course, I've trained myself to behave as if I'm convinced by the head stuff but it won't ever be the place where I'm most at home, most sure of myself. Unless there's integrity of thought and feeling, the thought really doesn't mean that much to me. It's the feelings that make things real.

So I probably need to post this, not just on the blog, but on the wall over my desk, in my stall in St M's, in the car, beside my bed...pretty much everywhere. It won't make that much difference, but it will remind me that the way I experience the world isn't necessarily the way the world is.

Our emotional lives move up and down constantly. Sometimes we experience great mood: swings from excitement to depression, from joy to sorrow, from inner harmony to inner chaos. A little event, a word from someone, a disappointment in work, many things can trigger such mood swings. Mostly we have little control over these changes. It seems that they happen
to us rather than being created by us.

Thus it is important to know that our emotional life is not the same as our spiritual life. Our spiritual life is the life of the Spirit of God within us. As we feel our emotions shift we must connect our spirits with the Spirit of God and remind ourselves that what we feel is not who we are. We are and remain, whatever our moods, God's beloved children.


liz said...

Thanks for posting this.Inevitably our gender contributes greatly to those emotional swings and, while its useful to be reminded that how we feel is not who we are and to be reminded of that frequently, I'm with you in the integrity bit. I need some confirmation, usually found in my head and my heart finding some common ground.
Can't believe the weather effects in your part of the world - surreal indeed.

RevDrKate said...

Oh Kathryn my soul sister across the often you post things and I am pulled up short as I could have written them myself (or wish I HAD). And this, for sure is one. Yes, this quote from Nouwen gets copied and posted...well, pretty much everywhere! Thanks!

Chris said...

Thanks for posting that, Kathryn. A previous post of yours got me back onto Henri Nouwen's reflections, but I had "omitted" to do today's!

I so need to hear this, as another "off the scale" F (and a man too, btw!)

Caroline said...

Thank you, Kathryn - I think I need to print this out too.

sally said...

How very of my biggest problems of late..I can be really, really ok, and then someone says or does (or doesn't do) one small thing and I am then really really not ok, scarily so..and I want to control this, I really really do!!!! Your post is very comforting, i try to remember my emotions are one thing, reality is quite another....