Feelings

How are you feeling today?

It’s a question we ask often. It’s a question we think about often. How do you feel? How am I feeling? Feelings of sadness or anger or worry. We are happy or joyful or filled with future fear. We feel so much. Too much. Too deeply.

Feelings are fickle. They swirl and brood and weigh upon our minds. But they do not last. They never last. The feelings flee before long; they fade in the face of new feelings… new emotions taking their place.

And yet feelings affect us profoundly. These temporary flights of fancy can shake us to our very core. Why? Why do feelings have such power? I have been thinking about this lately. Feelings aren’t always negative. Sometimes their power is harnessed for goodness and beauty. Feelings of happiness and warmth may overflow and lead us to be loving and kind. But do we have any control over when we feel happy? Do we control our feelings or do our feelings control us?

Feelings are not rational… not always. They don’t necessarily align with our circumstances. Occasionally during highly anticipated moments, moments that should be coloured brightly, exploding with joy, I feel a strange sense of despair, of emptiness. These feelings contradict the situation so severely that I am unable to explain their origin. Maybe it is a sense of disappointment derived from unrealistic expectations, or maybe it is a realization that nothing earthly, no matter how blissful, will ever be quite enough.

However, feelings often do correspond with our current situations. And yet, I don’t think that they have to. Sadness is not a requisite for suffering. It is not a necessity. Why then do feelings shape our lives and alter our courses? They do so because we allow them to. They possess the power that we give them.

All too often, we succumb to our feelings. We let worry wash over us and prevent us from doing life-giving things. We may frequently be slaves to our feelings, but freedom is ours for the asking. Feelings may pass, but there are some things that do not.

Peace is more than a feeling. So are Joy and Love. Sometimes we may feel peaceful or joyful or loving, but we don’t need to feel these things in order to choose Peace and Joy and Love. They are deeper than feelings, because they are gifts from God, and God, unlike feelings, does not change.

Feelings will pass, so we don’t need to overestimate their importance. In moments when feelings darken our perspective, we need to trust in Light, even though we cannot see it, with the knowledge, with the deep-seated conviction, that nothing, except that which is Good, Right, Pure and True, is Forever.

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