Just a Spoonful of DUST

Finding Peace Beyond Feelings
by Father Nathan Miller | Source: www.FormationToolbox.com

Understanding the difference between decisions and feelings can take minutes, yet living a proper balance is a battle that lasts a lifetime. Here are some tips for both:

You determine who you are by your decisions (Reset Yourself). So what you do not choose, does not make you good or bad.

So far so good? Here are a few examples:

  • Daughter runs in after school eager to hug mommy and trips over the unseen vacuum cleaner which mom had still not packed away.
  • Mother rages with anger within because the bag explodes and covers the living room in dust anew.
  • Daughter sees her mother’s face turn red and bursts into tears, automatically and fearfully taking a few steps backwards.
  • Husband, stressed after a day of work, walks in on the chaos and feels tempted to explode his stress onto them all.
  • Wife sees husband’s eyes and thinks to throw the blame on her daughter.

So far so good? Yes! In fact, ALL of us can—and do—feel all sorts of things: Positive emotions, blues, temptations, desires, sicknesses, attractions, hatreds, loves etc. Yet none of this determines who we are.

What makes us who we are is how we freely act (thoughts / words / deeds). That is to say, WHEN we feel these things, we are obliged to react—to act—in the proper way: against a temptation, for the love of good things, in control of anger, etc.

So let’s say everyone calms down, and acts in the “right” way:
  • Daughter gives mommy a hug.
  • Mom manages to smile and says “don’t worry”.
  • Dad even gets on his hands and knees to help to clean up the mess without exploding.

Now here’s that human problem which not even O’Loughlin alluded to in his article which I linked above.

Even after “doing the right thing” we can still continue to feel horrible.

  • For the rest of the day daughter doesn’t want to go out to play with her little sister because she feels “she is useless”.
  • Dad’s stress has increased and poured over into his appetite, a headache, and the desire to blame God for difficulties at work.
  • Mother, after re-dusting and vacuuming the living room, continues to feel the temptation to mix spoonfuls of that wonderfully grey dust into her daughter's dresser drawer with all her silk clothing.

No, God does not ask us to always feel good about everything. He can even allow us to feel horrible as a trial, so that we can prove to him that we love him purely and not because love-for-him, shown in fulfilling his commandments, will make us feel awesome.

It's pretty basic, but not exactly easy to live, because we all are dying to feel great, all the time.

The solution is that what we should be seeking does come from acting rightly. It’s what Jesus brought his disciples after rising from the dead at Easter, men who were feeling anything but awesome in that upper room.

It’s what can be yours and mine if we act rightly, and focus not on what we feel. It’s what makes us profoundly happy. It’s what God gives us when we make our choices—despite the spoonfuls of dust around us—out of love for Him. It’s called PEACE.

By Father Nathan Miller


Fr. Nathan is editor of www.formationtoolbox.com

This Catholic Formation Service is also available by e-mail.

To subscribe please write to: editor@formationtoolbox.com

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