My mind has been swirling around a central theme for at least a month now which is the idea that all feelings, emotions, come from either love or fear. As I’ve rolled that around, I find that it’s coming up all over the place. Podcasts I listen to, books, devotionals I’m reading…all of which feels like a confirmation that my thoughts are well placed for the season I’m in.
One of the ways I’m testing the idea is to evaluate emotions I’m having against it. I’ll find myself feeling warm and fuzzy inside after seeing my son – and there is love. Or maybe I’m anxious about a conversation I need to have – fear. As I’ve gone through this mental exercise, I’ve found that it holds water.
Next I started thinking about God. How God loves us and desires for us to love others. I think about some of the rules in the Bible. They seem restrictive and harsh, but I believe they are there because God loves us, wants protect us, or, applying context, to protect people from the what was happening at the time, risks inherently associated with that time period, or from societal situations at the time. Let’s get real. Bacon wasn’t meant to be restricted forever, just when people couldn’t store pig properly and were likely getting trichinosis. Everything’s better with bacon (at least in theory…love the smell but don’t eat it much). You get the picture.
So if I believe that all emotions and feelings come from love or fear, which one am I going to choose? Every time, I can’t emphasize that enough, every time, I’ll choose love. I’ve been focused for awhile on just loving others, so building in this principle is just an add on. What I’ve noticed is that loving on others is not hard, and it shifts me from a space where I may be quick to judge to one where I appreciate. I appreciate people for who they are. I get curious and try to understand them better. I want to know where they’re coming from, the shoes they’ve walked in.
I’ve also noticed that applying the love or fear idea to others has allowed me to stay in the tension, so to speak, with them. If they’re angry, I want to know what the fear is, because anger stems from fear. And by taking that approach, it helps remind me to not take it personally. Too often we get spun up in a situation because we take how someone is behaving personally. It’s not about us. They may think it’s about us, but it’s not, at least deep down it’s not. And the same is true when you’re the one whose upset. You may think it’s about someone else but keep asking yourself questions until you get to the bottom of it, you’ll find it’s about something in you.
As I define my authentic self, I know with absolute certainty that love is part of who I am. Loving others is a significant aspect component in my life. Finding ways to show love, to care for others, it’s my hearts’ desire. But I still have fear. There are still the days when I create the great American novel in my head telling the story of what someone else must be thinking, or assigning motive to their actions. That story describes behavior I don’t understand. Fear drives that.
When I stop and look at it from a place of love, the story stays written on paper and not in my head. Each of us has the ability to break emotion and feelings down to the basics of love and fear and I’d encourage you to try. Consider your feelings objectively and then choose to feel from a space of love, just as God does. Love yourself and love others. That’s it.