Can Feelings Lead Us to God?

By Kristen B

My journey is composed of infinite shades of feeling: minutes, hours, days, years–a myriad of hues that construct the ongoing tapestry of my life. Threads of learning, in the depth of emotion that a human life brings, have woven my heart to the ways of the Savior. He who is the means of redemption gives meaning to the emotion of days that form a life. The process of aligning the human experience with the divine is not an easy one, but there is a harmony that can burst forth when hearts, though broken, are opened to His grace. And therein I have come to see the purpose of these mortal days. To feel. To let feeling free me to God.

Feeling. For years, waking up in the morning felt like slow awareness; the thickness of coiled despair crawling onto my skin, a weight that seemed staggering in its silent power. It seemed to cling to me, so that my body ached and my mind, already a steady probe into the complexities of the universe, became shadowed with never-ending torment, intelligence itself fighting to classify feelings.

I felt….
I feel….

These are phrases that slide over the depths of emotion with an apologetic shrug and wave to things that can’t be put into words. And every word is a novel, with tastes, dreams, memories, association anew for each person. General connotations compile languages, but a single word takes on different meaning from person to person as lives give experiences that frame words. To feel emotion, that is human. And that is divine.

Feeling. Doctors put it into words: “Depressive disorder”—the words in any mind retrieve associations, beliefs, pre-conceived ideas. But they cannot convey my experience, they cannot convey yours. They provide the box inside of which I can explain how the world felt—a shrouded mask of porcelain, outside of which I stood with a mental grasp of beauty and happiness but a heart and soul aching with the fear of living. My experiences have words, but stripped to my very core, my experiences have been schools of feeling.

Feeling. Happiness, anger, bitterness, joy, love, compassion, despair, grief. Words that parcel the human experience, tossed about with sentences like surface waters which cover the vast depths of emotion which lie beneath and for which words fail and human understanding is surpassed. I believe that is where we can allow the poignantly mortal experience of feeling give us a lens through which we can see the hands of God.

Jesus Christ, Savior of the world, a perfect man who deserved no injustice, willingly chose to experience every instance of its occurrence throughout all time. To His disciples on that night that encapsulates all suffering. He said “my soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death” (Matthew 26:38). In ways beyond mortal comprehension He was, “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). To Jesus Christ, a burdened traveler on the road of life is no stranger. He who knew the storms of turmoil and undeserved anguish is close to the weary soul who watches suffering that seems needless, and, indeed, endless. Surely a closeness to the Savior, a man of sorrows, can be found by any in the midst of sorrows. To feel is to have the opportunity to expand the soul to the divine, to learn how to walk beside the Savior and Redeemer of the world; the bitterest of sufferings and grief can be made into conduits of light that call down the powers of heaven. In Christ is understanding: It is He who has stood under the raging torrents of death and hell and conquered, forever unchaining the gate dividing heaven from earth. In Him is the blessing for the mourner, the freedom from anger, the salve to bitterness, the understanding of despair, the culmination of joy. No longer bound by the chains of sin and death that mortality brings, circumstance holds no claim on the human soul. From any situation comes the chance to learn how to feel purely, and in feeling, to come to know Christ. Feeling is human. But feeling can raise us to the divine. To feel emotion, that is human. And that is divine.

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