This is natural…or could I say, this is the Natural Man. We naturally don’t want to feel pain and uncomfortable feelings. But the Lord is inviting us to avoid human suffering by doing the exact opposite and allowing ourselves to feel.
Let us taste the bitter so we can know to prize the good.
Let us pass through sorrow that we can know joy.
This Christ-like attribute of allowing has a name. It’s called long-suffering. Or if we’re using the greek translation, we can call it long-allowing.
Longsuffering can look many different ways. One of my favorite ways to interpret it, is the reminder to me to feel my feelings. To allow them. Feel them. Then move through them to the other side.
When Jesus describes his suffering of both body and spirit, we know he physically felt all of the pain and discomfort each of us would feel in our own life. His willingness to allow his body to feel is important to note. Our own tendency to close off and resist the physical feelings of our emotions closes us off to our body. Who do you think it is that would have us close off to our body? Satan, does all he can to tempt us to misuse or reject our body. If you have ever struggled with thoughts of “I shouldn’t be feeling this uncomfortable emotion” then please understand who could place the thought in your mind. Anytime you shame your feelings, you can be sure it comes from him. The one who does not want you to feel. The one who does not want you to experience your body. The one that does not want you to stay open and have long suffering. The one who does not want you to move through sorrow to know the joy on the other side.
We can’t be selective on which emotions we’ll feel and which ones we reject. They’re all part of the package of mortality. When we close off and resist the uncomfortable we inadvertently close off to all that is good at the same time. It’s much like a door we can open and shut. Mortality brings every type of feeling and experience. Health and sickness. Pleasure and pain. Light and dark. I can not open the door and say, “I’m only letting in the pleasurable feelings and experiences of life!” Mortality is a package deal. Everything has it’s opposite and they come together. When you remain open to all feelings, the bitter and the sweet, you’re now open to receive everything the Lord has for you. The more pleasurable feelings, yes, but also the blessings, the revelation, the guidance, and the miracles.
In this state of being open and allowing, something truly amazing happens. Pay close attention. In this state of being open and allowing, we experience the ability to feel uncomfortable feelings without becoming them.
I can feel angry without becoming angry.
I can feel frustration without becoming frustration.
I can feel irritation without becoming irritation.
Perhaps the reason we are so quick to resist our feelings is because we don’t want to become them. But I have come to learn that becoming the emotion only happens when resisting it. I close up, trap it inside, and it has nowhere else to go until it escapes in an explosion of me becoming the exact thing I’m trying to resist. If I stay open and allow the feeling to pass through me, I don’t become it at all. Godly suffering is the exact opposite of human suffering.
Human suffering is to resist.
Godly suffering is to allow.
You can feel it and not become it.
With this in mind, it’s interesting to read Moroni’s description of Charity, which he describes saying,
“Charity suffereth long and is kind, is not easily provoked…”
Why are you not easily provoked if you have charity?
Because you suffer long. You allow the feeling of being provoked by an emotion, but you don’t become it.
You feel it. You stay open. You feel the uncomfortable feeling and you move through it.
Our world is very easily provoked right now. Now more than I have ever seen in my life. I wonder what could happen if we learned to allow our feelings without becoming them? What if we could feel offense without becoming offended? What if we could feel anger without becoming anger? What if we allowed all our feelings without judgement and shame? What would happen if we truly practiced longsuffering?
If we really seek peace and unity in our hearts, homes, and world, we must start with feeling our feelings. It’s no coincidence that Moroni describes charity by first mentioning longsuffering. It is the hinge that opens the gate to all the other parts of charity. We cannot command everyone to love and unity if we are not willing to feel the division, offense, anger, and pain. We must learn to suffer as God suffers, or else we will inevitably destroy ourselves. And who better to help us feel, than the one who felt it all?
Let us help each other towards the peace and unity we seek in our nation and in our own hearts, by first feeling the uncomfortable feelings we may be trying to resist. Let us taste the bitter so we can know to prize the good.
The way to good is through.
Imagine your life, feeling your feelings, and look forward with faith.