Sunday, April 13, 2008

Shaping our Feelings, & our Lives

Feelings are SO POWERFUL! And yet, as a responsive mechanism, our feelings are never an originating source of experience, but rather a previously-inclined high-octane reaction that ignites when something throws the metaphorical match onto it. That means that, as responders, feelings can be shaped and led - even by one's own self! Here's the breakdown as I understand it:

Awareness opens the door to a breadth and depth of igniting realities and begins to organizes those realities into a coherent interpretation. (Emphasis on the heart.)
Attention moves toward some aspect of awareness (some reality) on which we wish to dwell and from which we desire to interpret other realities. (Emphasis on the spirit and mind.)
Action ties the heart and mind together in a direction that shapes both belief and the default filter through which we interpret those things we'll come aware of in the future.

Awareness, Attention, and Action... shape our feelings.

This is true even in moments of existential crisis or uncovered pain from past hurts. Engaging our awareness, with emphasis on the speaking heart, allows us to ask and answer questions like, "Why do I feel this way? Where did these feelings begin? Are these feelings true?" Engaging our attention, with emphasis on the speaking spirit and mind, gives us understanding and realization and helps us interpret the painful things we have come more fully aware of. Action (both internal and external) begins reshaping and reinforcing new filters for interpreting our past, present, and future... including all our significant relationships therein.

So, how shall we strive to expand or protect our awareness?
How shall we direct and fix our attention?
How shall we act?

The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn - shining brighter and brighter until the full day. The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know (no awareness) over what they stumble. Watch (attention) over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Watch the path of your feet (action) and all your ways will be established. Do not turn to the right nor to the left; turn your foot from evil (Proverbs 4:18-19, 23, 25-27).


Adam Graber said...

John -

So true! I've been more and more aware of the role feelings play in our lives. I was first clued in by Dallas Willard's Renovation of the Heart, which has guided most of my thinking about emotions. Right now, I'm reading another amazing book called Faithful Feelings: Emotion in the New Testament by Matthew Elliot. It's rocking my world. He just published his second book with us called Feel. For me, understanding my emotions, their role, and how to discipline them has been important in becoming more like Jesus, which is good for everyone. Thanks for the post.

John Lynch said...

Adam, my brother! Thanks for your encouraging words and the book links. I'm off to put them on my Amazon list even now! Many blessings, brother. May we come together as whole people in the image of our whole God. Much love in Christ.