When I was in my early thirties, I had the good fortune to hear Dr. Margarett Schlientz talk about feelings. For the first time, I began to think of anger and fear -- as well as love -- as positive energies.
The way Dr. Schlientz explains it: anger is a positive energy for setting wrong things right; fear enables us to speed up or slow down to make good decisions; love is for the sake of growing in wisdom and understanding of the beloved.
So many of us tend toward a state of anxiety which develops because we are uncomfortable with being feeling people. Feelings not attended to lead us to anxiety. Anxiety is a state in which we consider ourselves powerless.
When we reflect on our anxious state, however, we can move out of powerlessness into power. We can identify anger and we can proceed to the question, "What is wrong in my situation and how can I make it right?" We can identify fear and we can ask, "Am I putting off a decision?" or, conversely, "Do I need more time to make a good decision?" We can identify love and then ask, "How can I better understand the one I love?"
The power of feelings does not lead us to a sense of grandiosity. Precisely because we feel -- precisely because we are being moved by the influences of a larger world -- we are keenly aware of ourselves as limited, creaturely beings. We know ourselves, not as the gods we would set ourselves up to be, but rather as experiencing a vivid and dynamic Creator-creature relationship.
These discoveries lead me to pray:
"Thank God I can feel! Keep me feeling; keep me real."
Father Kevin Laughery