Following My Feelings

Levi Growling
Levi climbed onto my flour bins. I told him to get off, and he growled then giggled. This is the transition from growl to giggle.

Let’s piggy back on last week’s post. Last week’s post was supposed to describe the irony between trusting your feelings and not, as preached by my pastor at the church I attend.

In recent years, I’ve been trying, as a good adult, to understand my place in this world. I’ve been trying to get a sense of the annoying middle school years, the searching high school years, the thought-provoking college years, the pontificating twenties, the studious college years, and the self-awareness that evolved in my thirties. I usually toss a few tenants in my head:

  • Each person holds the entirety of the human condition inside themselves.
  • Everyone wants to take care of those they care about – whether it be family, friends, oil entrepreneurs, or puppies.
  • Everyone has stages of success and insecurity, and it’s always interesting to see when you meet someone where they are on the roller coaster.
  • Everyone has a place in the world, it’s just really hard to find it.
  • We all have special gifts, talents, or strengths, and it’s our job to identify how those fit within the world.
  • If you ignore your feelings, you do a disservice to those closest to you.
  • It’s your job to name and articulate your needs.
  • There is no grand conspiracy (or rather, I refuse to believe in one), everyone really just wants to take care of those they care about (back to bullet #2, though not numbered lest we think one is more important than another).

By not following my feelings, I have found that I have done grave disservice to myself and those I care about. I’m not saying follow my pleasure from one hedonistic event to another – I’m saying feelings, those important indicators that let me know how I’m doing, how I may have affected someone, how someone may have affected me, and the navigator that should chart my course in this messy world.

This sermon my dear pastor gave is still ringing with me – two weeks later. He told our congregation, in more than three masses that we should not follow our feelings. He told us that our feelings are not to be trusted and in return, we should simply turn to God and God will solve all of our problems.

And, what I have realized is that by not following my feelings, I have ignored the navigator that God gave me.

My husband was checking in with me last night. He was making sure I had things I needed. I noted that I doubt I get enough quiet time – not TV time – quiet time where I can be alone with my thoughts. This time, right now, while Levi is bouncing between Legos and the Flintstones in the other room, would work as a semblance of quiet time. I am sitting at my computer (with new hard-drive and new battery!) noting these confusing thoughts and feelings in a way that allows me to reread the words and make sense of the incident that troubled me.

I follow my feelings when they indicate someone is holding something back, when someone close to me is angry or confused, when a friend is sad or tired. I follow the knot that bundles in my stomach to help unravel the mysteries we navigate daily.

I follow my feelings to understanding. When I follow my feelings, I find that I follow them towards spirituality. I follow them towards wholeness. I follow them towards being closer to my family, to my friends. I follow them away from the pleasure-seeking things that might have attracted me in my twenties – when I was really just starting out and really just starting to make sense of it all. As I mature, I have found my feelings draw me away from a lifestyle to which my pastor also wanted to draw us away from.