My blogging from A to Z this year is titled 7 sins and friends….. sins? I am thinking about emotions and how many our culture says are bad or that we should not feel. Men are encouraged to be strong and silent and women are encouraged to be nice. “Feel good all the time!” says our culture. But we can’t, won’t, don’t.
People say, “Try not to feel that way.” Now when someone says that to me, I think, that is a feeling that they are not comfortable with, but I am comfortable with it, enough to express it. We label feelings with value judgements. Happy is a good feeling, anger is terrible, but really it is all neurological information. It is part of our system for exploring the world, just as touch and taste and sight and hearing help us explore the world. Imagine if we could not feel fear: a toddler walking off a cliff because they have no idea to be afraid. And without pain, we would not pull our finger back from being burned. If we can’t grieve, we can’t truly love.
I sat down yesterday and made a list of emotions and feelings, from A to Z, and I have more than one for each. I will only choose one for each letter, at least that is the current plan, but think of the richness and complexity of human feeling. Why don’t we celebrate it instead of excoriating it? And doesn’t every human have the full spectrum of feelings? We may not be comfortable with a feeling or have a name for it, but I think we all have all of them.
The photo is from Halloween, 2005, dressed up for church.