Feeling Good about Christmas   2 comments

xmas tree outBefore realizing what I had done, I started a post with the title “Holding onto the Good,” and the good referred to Christmas spirits.  I was falling into the American error of confusing the good with good feelings, when truly the good often comes with the worst feelings possible. One of my fundamental life commitments is this: embrace the hard to gain the good, regardless of how it feels.  But culture sucks me back into assuming that good feelings are the reward for good choices, that I can measure my spiritual pulse by how positive I feel, and negative feelings are a mark that I’ve slipped up somewhere.  No wonder I want to leave up the tinsel and lights and stretch out this season to push back the bleak winter.  That, and it just feels better.  Who doesn’t want to feel good?!

For my LOTR friends

For my LOTR friends

I affirm that desire: feeling good is not all bad.  A sense of well-being gives me more energy to make the world a better place.  It is a great blessing and resource.  Like all resources, however, it can be turned to self interest.  It can make me balk at choosing the hard or painful or costly. It can make me less patient, understanding, and sympathetic towards those who are struggling… even wanting to shove them away to insulate and save my positive vibes.   Good feelings are emotional cash, which can be spent well or poorly.  I’d like to have a big stash, but that’s not necessarily what’s best for my soul.  In my experience, suffering has much more potential power in shaping me for good, true good.

Still I instinctively avoid it and wish it away.  Pushing ahead through pain is like walking up to my knees in mud–it takes all my energy, gives no pleasure, and progress seems dismally slow.  Perhaps my New Year’s resolution should be: learn to slog, which no doubt means adjusting my goals, expectations, and evaluations.  Sometimes the measure of triumph is simply taking one more step.

truck in mud

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Posted January 4, 2014 by janathangrace in thoughts

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2 responses to “Feeling Good about Christmas

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  1. It is hard to remember that feelings are feelings. There are no good and bad feelings. Like the fact that lately, I really do not like to be around people. They get on my nerves and annoy me. Which this is different for me cuz I always thought that I liked to be around people. Not so much anymore. When I go to Walmart, and see the parking lot full, I want everyone to go home so I can shop peacefully. Now is this bad? My first response would be yes. But we have kids and they have a way of making you rethink everything. So when our oldest comes down the stairs, grumpy and annoying, does this mean she is bad? I would have to say, no. She does not do mornings at all…just like her dad. So, my feelings about people are for now they annoy me and I want to be left alone and that is okay. I remember growing up and there was a clear line of good and bad feelings. It was very frustrating growing up in that environment. Shit if King David can doubt, get depressed, angry, frustrated, scared, etc. and be called a man after Gods own heart…than why can’t I be okay with my feelings that are not the most lovely? It is a constant battle for me. Like the fact that my dad is in a nursing home, ya he is safe and well taken care of but I still do not like it. In fact, I hate it at times. It pisses me off cuz it was not suppose to be like this, watching my dad decline mentally and have little control over his body. He drools now! Yeah! Add that to the fact that he hates himself (always has) and you have lovely combo!! I desperately have wanted my dad…that desperation was there when I was young and it still there. Yes, I have him but I never really had all of him or even a 1/4 of him. Life sucks and does not play fair. I am rambling cuz I am tired. Thanks for sharing your blog. I am not sure I have made sense. Oh well. Thanks anyways.

    • Elizabeth, I’m sorry that life feels so bad for you. I totally agree with what you said! There are no bad feelings (although, like you, I was raised being told that there certainly were bad emotions and I should not feel them or share them). That is why it is so hard for me to embrace “mood lifting” options in life in any sort of healthy way–it usually just feels like an added obligation: you must do what is right, and you must also LIKE it! That is so un-Christian and unbiblical (as you pointed out). I never encourage anyway to live in a way that denies their negative feelings. It sounds like for you currently, avoiding people is the most positive think you can do for your soul! May you find all the quiet and solitude you need today!

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