Wednesday, March 10, 2010

what to do with feelings

In The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life Hannah Whitall Smith states the following about sin, but I would like to apply it to negative emotions: "We must not dwell on it, and examine it, and indulge in a luxury or distress or remorse. We must not put it on a pedestal and then walk around it and view it on every side and so magnify it into a mountain that hides God from our eyes."

However, this doesn't mean ignoring feelings. While talking with Amber about emotions she said something I think is very important: "If you don't feel the feelings you have, they will make you explode later. Its just a matter of not reacting based solely on them. If you arent exploring your emotions, you don't know how you feel. Why would we have emotions if we shouldn't feel them? We can definitely work on them. It doesnt mean we have to be controlled by them." 

It's that "working on them" that I am interested in. I think there IS a balance between knowing and understanding our feelings -- and that is what helps us know WHAT to let ourselves feel and WHAT to push out of ourselves.


The gospel is a process of learning and understanding and doing and changing. I'm always impressed by how there is always more to learn/understand/do/change in regards to any given doctrine. This one is no different. 

Colossians 1:9
"...that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;"

we learn i.e. KNOW and then comes understanding. NOT the reverse. I "know" a lot of things about the gospel -- but I don't yet fully "understand" them. it's a process and that explanation comes with the next verses:

Col. 1:10-11
"That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness."

We know the things we are to do to "walk worthy" and be "fruitful in every good work" -- those are the commandments and the learning that we get. That is what WE are able to do. That is our part. The understanding comes as we are "strengthened" and blessed to do and change. That is what HE does. That is His part. 

We can know, in a sense, on our own -- through our own efforts using what's been given us. But we can never understand without His help. 

Connecting to what I've been talking about feelings -- we can know about our emotions -- what they are and where they come from, etc. But we can never truly understand them without God. If we try we just fumble around and never get anywhere. But we also mustn't rely on God to do everything. Our part is to recognize and label things for what they are but to then turn things over to God to help us actually do what we are supposed to do with the situation. (Does that make sense?)

Stubbornly trying to do His part ourselves is as much following after our "own carnal wills and desires" as disobeying commandments and accepting His part is equal to calling on the "Lord while the arms of mercy [are] extended" to us. (Mosiah 16:12)

With the fall of Adam and Eve mankind became "cut off both temporally and spiritually from the presence of the Lord" and therefor we are all able to follow our own will (Alma 42:7). With the Atonement of Christ we do not have to stay spiritually cut off -- we can set aside our own will in favor for His. I've always been aware of this doctrine but i don't think I ever put it in context of my feelings. My work here on earth is to learn all that i can, to know and do, in order to submit my will to His so that I can actually begin to understand and change. Which includes doing His will in regards to my inner life as well as my outer life. My thoughts/feelings as well as my actions. And NOT rebelling against him by allowing negative thoughts/feelings to gain hold of my mind and spirit. 

I don't think i've given my inner life the attention it deserves. I turn to God so easily for outer things... but rely too much on myself for inner. The same as I turn my sins and weaknesses to Him, I need to turn my emotions to Him as well. Not so that I don't have to deal with them, but so I am feeling them with His guidance. Or pushing them out of my life with His blessing.

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