Human beings are created primarily as feeling creatures who can think, rather than thinking creatures who have feelings. Feelings lead us inextricably to needs, desire, longings and hope. In short, we are feeling, needing, desiring, longing, and hoping creatures. This emotional and spiritual creation calls us to do one thing in life: live fully.
The primary purpose of thinking, actually, is to articulate the desire of our hearts (feelings) and to decide what to do about our hunger and thirst for life, e.g., letting ourselves generate celebratory giving after success or grieve the losses of striving and not succeeding. Everything else is essentially using our thinking to count things. That does not minimize thought, by any means. “Counting things” has led to space flight and cancer-cure advances! However, our thinking that takes us to outer space and to cancer cures was birthed in the emotional world of wonder, longing, desire, hope, fear, anger, sadness, grief, and more hope.
People who attempt to block their God-given opportunity to live fully by feeling fully will miss a large portion of their lives. They can miss the vulnerable power of holding their child and imagining all the wonders and fears that come with love. Or they can miss the courageous imagining of reaching for their dreams, “win” or “lose.” They can even miss the powerful experience of merciful forgiveness and painful grace. We can miss “the living in the living,” while we are counting all the reasons not to do something because of the risk of feeling.
I am not writing about having feelings for the sake of just feeling. I am writing about how we are created, whether we like it or not, and how our feelings are gifts that allow us to live fully in a place that is tragic, sometimes horrific, and at least occasionally dreadful. We are created to dream beyond our reach and reach beyond our dream—which means that we will feel, and love, and ache, and celebrate, and grieve, but we will not miss what we are here for—to live fully in a tragic place, love deeply in doing so, and lead well a life that calls others into doing the same. In so doing, we will live fully in a place that will, otherwise, numb us and anaesthetize us into thinking only of how we can defend ourselves from the heart-felt experience of living fully.