[Rector]

Feelings

 

"No natural feelings are high or low, holy or unholy, in themselves. They are all holy when God's hand is on the rein." C.S. Lewis.

Have you ever attended a church service were everyone was smiling? You start to feel as though something is wrong with you if you don't get into the happy-clappy mood. It's as though feeling reflective, sad, or whatever, has no place in church. The constant demand for a joyous faith serves only to remind us how difficult it is to allow our real feelings to surface. The more religious we are, the less our feelings are allowed to surface. Is there something wrong with allowing ourselves to feel?

It's not only feeling sad or reflective which is viewed critically, but anger, affection, jealousy..... The whole range of human emotions seem unworthy of public display. It's as if displaying feelings is a weakness, a character flaw; makes us vulnerable. It somehow labels us as unstable, unreliable. In the tribal pecking order, it gives our opponents an edge, a knife to cut us down to size.

"How are you coping today?" Which being translated means - "I just wanted to remind you that you are a weak individual and that you had better fall in behind me if you know what's good for you".

Often, a religious faith can cause us to deny our feelings. Feeling sad is most unworthy, for does not the love of God fill you with joy? Feeling worried is unfaithfulness, for does not our Lord care for us as he cares for the birds of the air? Feeling affection is evil, for does not Jesus denounce sexual thoughts as adultery? Feeling anger is sin, for should not we love rather than hate? When faced with this type of thinking we are quick to suppress our feelings.

What is so wrong with feeling? I feel the summer heat and am drained. The flood of faces about me fills me with fear, my voice chokes, my heart thumps. The human touch, the smile, the word of affection; fills me with sensual joy. The cruel word fills me with anger. I feel and I am alive. To deny what I feel is to join the walking dead.

Did not Jesus feel? Did he not feel love, sadness, joy, anger, hurt - did he not feel and show it? Of course he did, but his feelings were reined by the hand of God - affection with integrity, anger without hate, sadness without self-pity. Feelings only "go bad when they.... make themselves into false gods."

We do not lessen ourselves when we feel.