Just a spoonful of dust
By Father Nathan Miller
Understanding the difference between decisions and feelings can take minutes, yet living a proper balance is a battle that lasts a lifetime. Here are some tips for both:
You determine who you are by your decisions (Reset Yourself).
So what you do not choose, does not make you good or bad.
So far so good? Here are a few examples:
- Daughter runs in after school eager to hug mommy and trips over the unseenvacuum cleaner which mom had still not packed away.
- Mother rages with anger within because the bag explodes and covers theliving room in dust anew.
- Daughter sees her mother’s face turn red and bursts into tears, automatically and fearfully taking a few steps backwards.
- Husband, stressed after a day of work, walks in on the chaos and feelstempted to explode his stress onto them all.
- Wife sees husband’s eyes and thinks to throw the blame on her daughter.
So far so good? Yes! In fact, ALL of us can—and do—feel all sorts ofthings: Positive emotions, blues, temptations, desires, sicknesses, attractions,hatreds, loves etc. Yet none of this determines who we are.
What makes us who we areis how we freely act (thoughts / words / deeds). That is to say, WHEN we feelthese things, we are obliged to react—to act—in the proper way: againsta temptation, for the love of good things, in control of anger, etc.
So let’s say everyone calms down, and acts in the “right” way:
- Daughter gives mommy a hug.
- Mom manages to smile and says “don’t worry”.
- Dad even gets on his hands and knees to help to clean up the mess without exploding.
Now here’s that human problem which not even O’Loughlin alluded to in his article which I linked to above.
Even after “doing the right thing” we can still continue to feel horrible.
- For the rest of the day daughter doesn’t want to go out to play with herlittle sister because she feels “she is useless”.
- Dad’s stress has increased and poured over into his appetite, a headache,and the desire to blame God for difficulties at work.
- Mother, after re-dusting and vacuuming the living room, continues to feelthe temptation to mix spoonfuls of that wonderfully grey dust into herdaughter’s dresser drawer with all her silk clothing.
No, God does not ask us to always feel good about everything. He can even allow us to feel horrible as a trial, so that we can prove to him that we love him purely and not because love-for-him, shown in fulfilling his commandments, willmake us feel awesome.
It’s pretty basic, but not exactly easy to live, because we all are dyingto feel great, all the time.
The solution is that what we should be seeking does come from actingrightly. It’s what Jesus brought his disciples after rising from the dead atEaster, men who were feeling anything but awesome in that upper room.
It’s what can be yours and mine ifwe act rightly, and focus not on what we feel. It’s what makes us profoundlyhappy. It’s what God gives us when we make our choices—despite the spoonfuls ofdust around us—out of love for Him. It’s called PEACE.