Feelings: The Keys to Spiritual Growth

Picture this. A funeral of a young man, not even thirty-five years old. A father, stoic and expressionless. A sister, distraught, guilt-ridden. A sad scene, to be sure.
Nowhere but in the face of death are we assaulted by so many strong emotions, the tide of which is almost overwhelming.

For some, emotion is seen as a sign of weakness. Real men don’t cry is the unspoken mantra. Others put on a smiling face and pretend they’re happy, when inside, they are devastated. Then there are the two extremes: those who cannot control their emotions and those who numb themselves out, refusing to feel anything. Neither is healthy.

Where are you in this gamut of feelings?

I can say for much of my life I was told I was “too sensitive”. As a young child, I cried at the sight of dead chickens in the meat market case. I refused to step on my own shadow. Years passed, and I learned to stifle my feelings, believing the lie I had been taught. But then, I paid a high price. Failure to express our feelings takes a toll on our physical and mental well-being. I realized I needed to express my feelings – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

And I was set free.

Emotions and feelings are a gift from God to help us deal with the situations and circumstances of life. They can motivate us to action and also drag us into the depths of despair if not dealt with. Suppressing our feelings is both unhealthy and unspiritual. When we refuse to express our feelings, we are denying who we are at our core.

Feelings tell us much about ourselves and the world around us. Take fear, for example. Fear comes in many forms, but in truly dangerous situations, it warns us to flee and to protect ourselves. We must listen to our feelings or we risk injuring ourselves even more. Grief and anger are two other emotions that must be expressed. If we keep them in, we will fall into depression.

But let’s remember the good emotions as well: love, joy, gladness, surprise, attraction. These also tell us something about ourselves and our world. We live in a hurting place and many feel unloved. A kind word, a compliment, a word of praise or encouragement is a simple act we can all do every day to spread a little more love. We never know what battles someone may be facing. Love and joy resonate at a higher energy level. Can you not feel it when you are around someone who is radiating these? It’s infectious and exhilarating. It’s uplifting. Yes, truly our emotions are keys to our spiritual growth.

So, as Valentine’s Day approaches, let’s each do our part to spread a little love around, shall we? What simple thing will you do to make the world a more joyful and loving place? To encourage a friend who may be down? I still give out those little Valentine’s Day cards we used to write as children to people at the office and neighbors. It’s silly, I know, but everybody needs to be reminded they are loved and if it brings a smile to someone’s face, then I’ve done my part. Will you do yours?

Until next time, keep the faith and keep looking up!

Waiting for Love – For All My Single Friends

It’s February and the month of one of my favorite holidays, Valentine’s Day. My son says every holiday is my favorite, perhaps that’s because I associate holidays with love, in some way, shape, or form.

Are you waiting for love? Wondering why your friends are all married and you’re not? Tired of the singles’ scene and staying home alone on the weekends? Take heart, dear one, you’re not alone and I have some advice to share with you. Now Ann Landers, I’m not, but I have learned some stuff along my journey to faith. When it comes to waiting for love – STOP WAITING! Love is all around you. Open your eyes and see it. Open your heart and feel it. Love often comes in unexpected forms and sometimes we have to step out in faith to experience it.

This past weekend, for example, I braved the snowy Baltimore weather to go country dancing about 30 miles from home. My mother would have had a fit, but I was bound and determined not to stay home two weekend nights in a row. After inviting several friends to join me, I made up my mind to go alone. “I’m going to trust God to get me there safely and provide people to dance with.”

“Well, what are you doing here tonight?” was the enthusiastic greeting when I walked in. “You braved the weather!”
“Yes, I did,” I said smiling after my 50 minute drive in the snow. I try to live by faith and not by fear, as most of you already know. And God rewards faith. Not only did I arrive safely, some great dance partners showed up and I was in heaven the entire evening, especially when they played one of my favorite songs,”Pontoon”, and I was out on the floor dancing with a wonderful partner.

The moral of the story is this: stop waiting for love. Go out and find happiness. Be with people you enjoy being around. Do what you love to do. Smile. Love is giving, caring, and sharing. Do that and basically, BE LOVE.

You’ll soon find out that once you start giving and sharing love, it will come back to you many fold. Until next time, send me all the little ways you show love to others and I’ll post them. As always, keep looking up!