Saturday, March 14, 2009

Knowing vs Feeling

I have a rational mind (don't we all?) I often think in terms of logical outcomes. I think through everything often too much. Over the years I developed and honed this skill because my emotions were too fragile to let get caught up in the blender that was my parents divorce. There were only a few instances that I can remember after my 10th Birthday that I relinquished control of my analytical mind to the pithian emotions that had withered in the absence of attention. Sure there were the occasional outbursts because if you bottle everything up eventually it blows, but I have only once before voluntarily, purposefully, planed out, given up control.

That is until this year with Lent. It is a new experience for me to try to not try. To force my brain to take the passenger seat and let my emotions guide me. It leaves me vulnerable and often times highly emotional and distressed. I am trying this experiment because when I try to analyze and decide on what path to choose I am stonewalled by both decisions. I have come to the point in time where I need to be able to do what I feel is right. What sucks is that in neglecting my feelings for so long I can not trust them. At least that is what my rational mind is telling me.

So I wonder which is better? To know what Path is right and to follow it? Or to take what you feel and translate it into action? Emotions I feel are often like our instincts in this wonderful C.S. Lewis quote:

Telling us to obey instinct is like telling us to obey 'people.' People say different things: so do instincts. Our instincts are at war... Each instinct, if you listen to it, will claim to be gratified at the expense of the rest.
How do I know what fickle emotion to follow? Should I worry about knowing such a thing? or should I just kick off the wall and let myself travel, like in space, floating off with the same velocity I left with? Should I just saturate my life with my emotions and ride/enjoy the rollercoaster that is bound to come? Or should I try to play a chess game where their are millions of different pieces and the rules keep changing? Should I use my emotions to try and block out what I know in my mind?

I guess I am really just trying to figure it all out and needed a good place to ramble and rant. Any sugesstions? and if any one tells me not to worry it will be alright I will find you and I will deck you.


  1. David, I totally understand what you mean by "What sucks is that in neglecting my feelings for so long I can not trust them." That is exactly what I felt. I had totally lost the ability to trust my feelings. I couldn't/wouldn't distinguish between emotion and the promptings of the spirit.

    I am still working on understanding how the spirit speaks to me. For me, emotion can include both light and darkness. The spirit always operates in the light. If my feelings lead me to feel at peace and I see clearly the path ahead, I believe it is the spirit reaching out to me.

    If on the other hand, my reason is weakened, my sense of direction is impaired, doubt and darkness cloud my judgment, or my physical wants overshadow my spiritual needs, I believe it is emotion driving the bus.

    I appreciate that for Lent you let down the intellectualism and allowed for feelings once again to enter your life, but, in my opinion, letting go of the things that spiritually rooted you such as church/organized religion probably wasn't necessary. Allowing for the spirit to direct your live instead of just intellectualism is like pulling up the anchor on your boat. Taking religion out of the picture, however, is like removing the sails and allowing yourself to be tossed wherever the wind blows.

    I don't think the Lord expects us to neglect the intelligence he has blessed us with. The trick is to meaningfully combine both the intellectual and spiritual aspects of our lives.

    I am still fragile in spiritual things and often want to retreat to what my mind tells me is "rational." Learning to trust the spirit requires faith, patience, and practice. The natural man in me wants to shut off things of the spirit and return to my carnal desires. I fight it every day. I hope you are more successful than I have been. I hope your heart is broken(open.) Only when I cracked open my heart in the slightest was the Lord able to fill my heart and mind with light.

    You are a good man David. I pray you will find the answers you are looking for.


  2. I understand your dilemma. Feelings can lead us into dangerous traps... but I think that 'knowing' is equally dangerous. I've struggled in the church when people say "I know such-and-such is true" because I honestly don't KNOW, and I may never come to that stage... but I have faith. I believe it with the entirety of my heart; with all of my soul. I finally began to understand it three years ago when my cousin gave his mission farewell talk. He said that knowing spiritual things (like Joseph Smith being a prophet and such) is like knowing that your parents love you. There's no scientific way that you can prove it- no equation that neatly balances, no physical laws you can manipulate into mathematical proofs... yet somehow you have that assurance that it's true. Sometimes I think that a moderate sense of doubt and questioning can be very healthy. It's a way of humility, my own way of saying "This is what I believe, but I'm not perfect and I may be wrong." How can we expect others to open their minds when our own are closed? First off, I think that it's important to figure out what works for you; find how the Spirit communicates with you personally. I am (and always have been) very much in touch with my emotions, and through the years I have learned to trust that intuition that I believe is the Spirit. As a scientist, I have a moderately logical mind when it comes to figuring out problems on paper, but when it comes to humans and relationships I've learned to rely almost entirely on my emotions and my sense of what is right and what is wrong. Perhaps there are some who are blessed with an incredibly logical mind, and they can figure out problems based purely on reasoning, and that may work for them. I obviously can't say where you fall on that spectrum. It's something you must find out for yourself. :)