My life is no picnic, but there is food! Ha ha ha! I’m sure many of us could relate to that sentiment. We live lives that are punctuated by pains and challenges that leave us pained or aching. We find ourselves striving for that moment when we can relax, that place where we can be at peace, or that thing which will help us feel better. But in all of this, we make a crucial error of believing in a false reality.
Many folks live with the belief that what is felt is real. “You can’t help who fall in love with,” is a common refrain. Or “if it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad,” hailing back to the 1990s. Perhaps even more so, “I just have to do something about it!” We feel an impetus, or an impulse, and we feel almost forced to follow it. But is this truly reality?
The Renaissance brought to mankind’s awareness that reason was often a better choice than the transience of emotions. For a few centuries, mankind invested itself in logic and reason, often discounting emotions to the point of suppressing them. And during this time, we saw many good (and bad) things come to pass. We saw the rise of the idea of individuality, the advancement of freedom as morally superior to captivity/slavery, and many of our modern technologies are based on advancements and technologies brought about by logical or reasonable ideas which became realities to help improve the quality of people’s lives.
And yet, in the late 20th century and into this 21st century, there has been an advocacy against reason and for emotional decisions. There has been an effort to elevate a person’s emotional wellbeing above what reason or logic may suggest is best. In many ways, this has almost been a backlash against to over-reach of stoic ideals. However, I would submit that this backlash has, itself, gone too far.
Some have advocated reason and logic to the degree that emotions are bad. This is what the Stoics once believed, and it persists to this day in men and women who seek to eschew emotion and be exclusively rational. But this extreme is also a flawed view, and if one is honest, it is false reality, as well, as recent studies suggest that even the most rational among us still make many choices via our emotions and not our reason.
“Ok, so what IS reality?”
Reality is found in balance, in the Truth. When one examines one’s life, it becomes evident that some emotions are lying, though the fact of that emotion is revealing a truth, and that some emotions are reflecting reality. As an example, one might find themselves feeling alone while surrounded by a crowd of folks. Is this person really alone? Are they really by his-/her-self? Quite to the contrary, but that feeling of being alone may reveal that this person is missing something.
Take, for example, the same person. He feels alone in a crowd. Perhaps it is because none of his friends are there! So, he is missing his friends. Or perhaps, another version, she has friends in the crowd, but she has realized these “friends” have abandoned her and are all somewhere else. Furthermore, perhaps this is not the first time it has happened. Both of these persons’ feelings of loneliness are revealing something to them, even though the feeling itself does not reflect the immediate reality.
Worse yet, sometimes, we attribute our emotions to others. A classically understood example of this is the woman who has been cheated on and now sees a cheater in every man she interacts with. Her world was shattered by a foul example of a man, and that shattering has left her perspective skewed against the truths in front of her.
Since, then, we can’t solely trust reason/logic, and given that we cannot trust emotions, we must seek the Truth between the two. We must look for the Truth between the lines, as it were. Our emotions are not to be ignored nor coddled, but they are to be used as a sensor identifying a potential problem (or a blessing) in our life. Logic then can be a good framework within which we can see our world and evaluate information we’ve been given. And somewhere, logic, emotions, and the Truth can miraculously unite to provide us an accurate view of reality, as we interact with others.
As a final note, it is necessary to identify that Truth is used as a pronoun because there is but one real truth, Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah of Israel and the World. Without Jesus as the compass, measure, and standard, it can be easy for one to begin to reason one’s self away from reality or for one’s emotions to gain the reigns again. It is important that one submit’s his/her life before Jesus, accepting His death in your place, and then following Him in all ways. Without this commitment, it may prove to be impossible to accurately perceive reality or to align one’s self with reality.
I pray you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, and that you will serve Him with all you have.
— 1 Corinthians 15:10 —