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February 17, 2013

Emotionally Prompted God Connections

I am continually surprised how many different emotions I can feel now that I’m not numbing out in my addiction. Who knew there were hundreds of different shades of happiness, and hundreds of shades of sadness; a whole galaxy of feelings! In my old life I was familiar with maybe a dozen or so, always cutting feelings off before they grew into something unexpected. Not reaching out to God, I was on my own and terrified of the unknown. I had to control my mood, even if that meant self-sabotage. I didn’t like the feeling of returning to the gutter, but at least I knew what to expect.

I don’t have to live like that anymore. Today I am blessed to witness a river of emotion flowing through me. Sometimes the river is gentle, sometimes rapid. I don’t choose what comes, but I choose what I do with it. If I don’t constantly surrender my inner experience to God (which often requires talking to others), this river gets dammed up. I know from experience the dangers of letting too much water build up.

At the risk of mixing metaphors, here’s a poem by the Islamic poet Rumi which I find useful:

“This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.”

Each new feeling, comfortable or uncomfortable, can bring me to God in a different way. When I am happy, instead of choosing to be self-satisfied, I can choose to be grateful. When I am anxious, instead of going into despair, I can choose to have faith. And a thousand subtle variations on these reactions corresponding to each unique emotion. Each emotion-prompted God-connection becomes a new wrinkle in my ever-deepening relationship with Him.

I still get scared sometimes, but my mind belongs to God now, and He always seems to steer me safely through the rough.