I learned early in my Clinical Pastoral Education training that there are only four basic feelings we have in life–Mad, Sad, Glad, and Afraid.
The advantage of knowing this is the sooner I can name the feeling I am having, the easier it is for me to talk about it. I don’t have to understand why I am having the feeling, or if I “should” be having the feeling, or whether I “ought” to be having it. I don’t have to worry if it is justified? It doesnt’ matter. Is it rational? Makes no difference.
And of course, sometimes I forget what I already know about feelings entirely. Just ask Mary, and she will nod her head.
We use a lot of words to describe the way we feel, but ultimately, whatever the feelings are, they are siblings of the above four.
Whatever I feel, I know now that I am not alone. I am convinced there is a Presence that understands exactly what I am feeling, better than I do. Some people call this Presence the Creator, the Sacred, the Great or Holy Spirit, Higher Power, Jehovah, Lord, Jesus, or God. So when I wonder if anyone in the universe understands what I am feeling, I know there is One who already does. We are not alone, though we feel it often. This companionship, grace, or love is a great mystery to me. The only response I know to give is “thank you” and receive it.
And so, I am trying more and more to just “feel what I am feeling when I feel it.” This is my new mantra. I am trying to learn how to name the feeling I am having before I explain it away in my head. Once I name it, I can add other adjectives, stories, and life experiences to help me understand it better.
On August 5th, 2009, I feel GLAD. I am thankful that I am loved by this Great Mysterious One, and that I am not alone. I cannot say all of the reasons I feel glad today, because I don’t know all of the reasons I’m feeling glad. That’s ok, I will just feel it. I don’t have to explain or rationalize what I am feeling. Feelings just are what they are and what I do with them and how I communicate with others about them, are my choice. Feelings are also my teacher about myself and others, if I will be the student and let my feelings teach me about me.
So today, I am at peace even while the waters are being stirred all around me.
And for that, I am profoundly thankful, which of course is a direct descendant of glad.