Tuesday, February 22, 2005
I know God loves me. This fact is demonstrated in current events. He started it too, with an audacious plan formed before the world was made. So, yes, I know God loves, and that he loves me. Knowing is, however, different from feeling.
I figured feeling didn't matter. I knew a fact and that would be good enough. If I forgot, all I had to do was remember Jesus dying on the cross, or God leading the Israelites across the desert. I've always suspected feeling. Squishy, unreliable things they are, changing on a whim or a change of wind, running away when examined, blindsiding the unprepared at just the wrong time. I figured out a better way, an intellectual way. Thought and learning, knowledge informing the process of living such that I wasn't led astray by those untameable feelings. Urk. Not for me. I know
If I wanted reminders of how frail a guide emotions were all I had to was look around. People all over the place were being driven down the wrong road by unrestrained emotion. Examples were uncounted. I had a better way. It was easy. Just think about it and then make the move.
That, at least, was the ideal. There was a deep and dirty secret at the core of my decision-making process: somewhere along the line I'd learned that a decision made without considering emotions attaching to it was hollow. Useless. Pure intellect seemed to lead to a different kind of death but the end result was the same: dead is dead. It seemed that there was a kind of emotional knowledge without which the world couldn't be known accurately.
Of course I didn't talk about this. Dirty secrets don't like the light of day and this was about as dirty as they came. Yet there was power in it. I made good decisions, guiding myself by a combination of thought, intuition and feeling, and thereby stayed more or less intact. Others agreed and, so long as they didn't know the reason for it were happy to go along with what I learned.
Perhaps it's a sort of check-and-balance process. Intellect pulls one way, extreme, and emotions pull the other. Let either alone and you get disaster. Together, they make the process moderately center-seeking. Truth is rarely found out in the extreme tails of the curve. Although there needs to be some excursion around the center in order to find alternatives to paths that don't work, the better path usually isn't way out there.
Perhaps it takes emotion to truly comprehend the truth of anything. Emotion without intellect is a kite without a string, fluttering and going nowhere but down. Intellect without emotion is a body without blood, everything looking right but having no life.
All that said, I still don't trust emotion any more than I'd trust the rattlesnake I just stepped on. I might as well go shake a bottle of nitroglycerine. Which is why when God said he wanted my emotions as well as my intellect the idea caused some distress but it didn't take too long for me to acquiesce. "Fine. Take them. I don't really want them." There followed a time of peace.
That happy state of affairs didn't last very long. Far from just taking over, God sort of polished things up and put them back in place so they worked better. Now I felt things more strongly than ever. Thanks a lot. Ever since then I've been in an ongoing struggle, part of me wanting the freedom that God offered and part of me wanting to find a hole, crawl inside and pull the opening in after me. That mountain is much too big to climb.
Well, I could go at it one step at a time. Don't look at the mountain. Just hold God''s hand and look at our feet. Let the future take care of itself. When he told me that he fully intended to make me capable of loving other people I didn't think he was serious. Then I thought about it some more and realized he was completely serious, and he WOULD do it. Eventually I accepted that.
"Hi, Larry," Debbie says. "How are you?"
I get in the front seat. Nate puts the car in gear and we head for Killer Shrimp. "I'm... frazzled. Tired, Up too late last night. And I think God has a hold on some major piece of me. I'm not sure what it is yet and I'm not sure I want to know. How are you?"
The dinner conversation takes its usual wandering, wide-ranging track. Angels, churches, video production, preaching, forgiveness. Two glasses of pinot grigio make me a little bit more animated than usual. What could I do? The place has no good beer, so I have to drink wine.
The rest of the weekend passes in a blur. I'm badly out of sorts. God keeps tugging on something. I don't want to know what it is. At least the superbiscuits I made for Jenny, Joe, Nate and Debbie turned out well. Surprising. I hadn't made these in at least 25 years and was winging it from memory.
Pieces of the answer gradually accumulate. God does this with me. He knows I'm too easily blown to pieces, so he quietly and calmly brings ideas in and lets them cozy up to the others. Sneaky, he is. And he knows me well.
As frequently happens the Weblog Fellowship provides some big clues. I'd been looking at them for a long time but the deep truth didn't sink in. What do these folks have that I don't? An ability to let God love them. Far stronger than my intellectual love-perception analog is their demonstrated, if sometimes wavering, direct emotion of God's love for them. Lu, Rags, Breezze, Paula. Interesting that this man's group is mostly women. Maybe they're the only ones brave enough to talk about this kind of relationship.
Letting God love me. No justification for it, no reason at all other than it is his character. Love is what he does. Even to old pieces of stone.
Lord Jesus, please let me never take your love for granite. Help me to walk beyond intellect, into your land of freedom.
2005 February 22
Minor editing Feb 23