Thursday, July 05, 2007

Theology on a Napkin

I’ve been dialoging with another blogger lately on the issue of joy. His thoughts have led me to reflect more on my story and the faith that was handed to me. I was raised riding through the spiritual life on the Fact/Faith/Feeling train. For those of you unfamiliar with this illustration, it basically says that Facts are the engine to which you connect your Faith, and your Feelings are like the caboose and get to come along for the ride. The logic is fine to a point, unless you find you’ve been run over by that train. Here’s some of how I got caught on the tracks. My spiritual culture held emotion at arm’s length. If I had a dime for every time I heard a leader say, “feelings change; facts never do,” I’d be a rich man. This sentiment is fine if treated as a proverb, but somehow it became a theology. I was not as secure as all the leaders who taught that illustration. They would go on and on about love and the joy of the Lord, how these are not feelings, and so it left me discounting how I felt about things, especially about God. I cut myself off from my emotions, assuming they were not to be trusted. I concluded I should just live inside my mind. It worked for a while, but the Caboose wouldn’t accept taking backseat. Slowly over time, I was increasingly living in fear. I was afraid of messing up, of making God mad. I justified it by calling it the fear of the Lord. I memorized Psalm 115:3 to remind myself that God could crush me at any second and probably should, since I deserved it for that thought I just had. Feelings were speaking, but Mind wasn’t listening. Graciously, I found myself gaining an ear for Feelings voice. There were stories to be told about being inadequate and why I was so fearful. Feelings wrote long essays on my need to please and fit in and how that influenced even what I thought of God and how I assumed he viewed me. I’m glad I finally tuned in. So this is in part why I have a hard time with the choo-choo train illustration. It works better on a napkin, but not as my paradigm. Facts are fine and necessary and faith must be rooted in something solid or it will falter. But feelings are not the bastard children as I once thought. I now believe how I feel is extremely important in my spiritual well being. If I feel discouraged or depressed, I better take note. It may pass as quickly as the guy late to catch a plane, but if not, there may be a message I need to hear.


bloodrose61 said...

Thank you for your kind note on my blog, Watchman. I am healing, slowly but surely. My words of advice for your relationship w/your daughter: Build her self-esteem. Make sure SHE believes in herself.

I love your post on turning 40. I identify completely.

Take care.


Anonymous said...

It has been said that the longest journey we make is the 18 inches from our mind to our hearts. You, my friend, are well on your way..Namaste