Thinking and Feeling

Fyodor-Dostoyevsky1

“A fool with a heart and no sense is just as unhappy as a fool with sense and no heart.”  

– Dostoyevsky

How’s it going as you balance your way through life these days? Are you happy AND wise? Do you feel a sense of balance or rather a slight car-sick nausea because something is out of whack? There are two essential dimensions to walking on the right path, wisdom and love. Without both we tip over too much.

I often leave meetings with an ache in my heart. I just had to say something very sensible. I couldn’t resist the temptation and just sit there in silence. The ache that came later was because my heart just wasn’t in it. There were other feelings like anger, frustration, or fear but not the right one that should have added balance to my cleverness and helped me be more wise.

all-in-the-family-episode-reflects-today-s-pro-gun-argument-40-years-agoNow that I’m in the second half of my life I’ve discovered why this balance is so important. People become jaded with all the wisdom that experience teaches and along the way can lose too much of their heart. It’s an awful feeling to keep realizing you’ve become THAT coot. The wonder has leaked out. You’re not offering any real wisdom to those around you, just one long cynical commentary. Wisdom must have heart (passion, empathy, grace) in order to be of any use, to yourself or others.

Eugene Peterson’s Message translation helps to show how real wisdom and love are intertwined in living out (practice makes perfect) our faith in community:

Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.  James 3:17-18

Feelings must have their balance as well, especially those that reflect our deepest beliefs. Without that key ingredient of “sense” people sometimes sound half-baked when they talk about a religious faith that’s mostly feelings but faith only up to your ankles.

When was the last time you sat down and thought about how someone else must be feeling. With all the social media, who has time to talk things out, to listen, to understand? Wisdom leads you to slow down, shut down and hear things. Feelings get hurt, they swell with pride, they become so fragile. Without the anchor of “sense” they can carry you off to places that you never intended to go.

Wisdom and lovpouring_watere travel together on the same path toward heaven. If your great ideas are causing you to say things that are abrasive, egotistical, and pessimistic – just keep your big mouth shut (I’m talking to myself!). If your love for others is leading you down the road of bad decisions and hurt feelings then it’s time to grow up. The love of God is deep, mature and steady. It is eternal. It’s purpose isn’t to make you and I feel good for today. God’s love is here to transform us starting now and for eternity. That transformation only works when we are putting it into practice (maturity takes time) and pouring it out (it’s not about you).

Be wise and remember how God is transforming you into his image so that you can demonstrate his heart to someone else.

“The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things.”  ― Rainer Maria Rilke

Just Three Things

I saw this again the other day….

They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world; someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.

I think I’ve seen it three times in the past few months. It keeps popping up. It must resonate with me for some reason.

  1. Who do you love right this minute? Ever made a list before? Are you certain to tell them, over and over again, before it’s too late?
  2. What is it that you’re doing these days that really matters most to you? To others? To the bigger picture?
  3. Where are your hopes and dreams? Not buried out in the backyard anymore! Are they right in front of you, inspiring you to take one more step? Have they been stolen by the Wicked Witch?

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.  Proverbs 4:23

That means what you’re thinking, how you really feel, and all those pesky worries that keep eating away at your resolve. Guard your mind, your spirit, your smile, your friendships, your prayers (remember to pray for your enemies), your idle thoughts and your past that’s been washed away. Guard your heart from what’s not true. Guard your today from what can’t be changed and what hasn’t even happened yet. Guard what’s real from all the overblown imagination that plays havoc with your dreams and interactions.

Find something eternal to rest your hopes upon, keep yourself busy doing things that really matter and then love people (no matter what you get back).

“Nothing is permanent in this wicked world – not even our troubles.” – Charlie Chaplin

(I think this template is hard to read, what do you think?)