I don’t remember where I read it, but this one line has been stuck in my mind for the last few weeks. It was something along the lines of “gorging on emotions.” The idea of feeding upon my emotions is bothersome. It sounds self-cannibalistic. It sounds down right stupid (a word I use sparingly). I dislike the connotation of unhealthiness and its allusion to gluttony. But as I reflect on my certain moods, this line has a ring of truth. There are at times this reinforcing cycle of emotions and mood. Why do I feed on my emotions? And what or who do my emotions feed?
On one level, this reminds me of how C.S. Lewis describes the devils in The Screwtape Letters. They are ravenous creatures who seek out souls (and other weaker devils) to consume in order to attempt to satisfy temporarily the pangs of emptiness within. Do I gorge myself, or even politely dine at times, on my emotions just to fill some emptiness within?
On another level, this “gorging on emotions” reminds me of how I can easily distract and entertain myself with my own thoughts. Do I dwell and walk among my emotions just to entertain myself? Is it out of boredom? If it is for distraction, what am I distracting myself from?
Is it a matter of my emotions controlling me, or me controlling my emotions? Is this analogous to my thoughts controlling me or controlling my thoughts?
I don’t think it is about control, but of remembering which contains the other. Am I my emotions, or are my emotions a part of me? Am I my thinking, or is my thinking a part of me? I sometimes forget, in certain moods more often than others, that my thoughts and emotions are a part of me. They are not who I am. This seems especially hard to recognize with emotions because they are so closely connected to mood and attitude, and even thoughts.
I am made in the image of God, and God is not thoughts and emotions, therefore I am not thoughts and emotions. They are part of being human, gifts of being.
Just because I may feel sad does not mean that I am sad, that is, my being is sadness. The English language attempts to equate the two, my I-am-ness with sadness. To say that I am sadness contradicts and negates all the joy and happiness in my life, both now and in the past and future. The feelings of sadness are in the forefront of my attention, displacing but not eliminating the feelings of happiness.
Enough with semantics. What or who do my emotions feed? What or who benefits from this gorging? Where is the pay off (reinforcement)? It is the very thing I just described—my false self (as Thomas Merton would say), the egoic little me (as Eckhart Tolle would say). The false self—the preoccupation, attachment, and over-identification of self as my thoughts and emotions—is really an empty entity. It needs something to make itself feel real and important, and what better is there than emotions and “feelings”? The false self distorts the purpose of emotions as a part of being human into something else, into something to consume and temporarily fill the emptiness and nothingness of itself.
On the thin border
between faith and doubt walks Christ,
calling all to trust.
Only in Christ can one have complete and total trust. This means that I should not even place trust within myself, that is, my false egoic little me. Only Christ can feed. Only He can fill the emptiness within. My doubt lies not in Christ, but in letting go of myself, to let go of something that “feels” real but is really no-thing, and reach for Reality Himself.
Oh to dare to trust.