“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel” – Carl Beuchner
Wow this is so true! When I think back on all the lectures I’ve attended and preaches I’ve listened to, the ones that stick out aren’t the slickest ones or the most profound (although these are great!), the ones I remember are when something stirred in me. When people are able to engage us on a spiritual and/or emotional level, it leaves an imprint in our lives that long outlasts the latest intellectual or theological ‘revelation’.
Certainly we should not order our lives around our emotions, but neither should we neglect them. Western society in general and particularly some streams of reformed theology have cast a disapproving light on the emotions of man. They are almost seen as a yet-to-be-redeemed element of humanity. They are often unpredictable and lead us to do irrational things. Being led without reason is wrong, no doubt, but being led by reason alone is equally wrong. God has made us to be physical, psychological, spiritual, emotional beings.
So, when we engage with others, perhaps rather than trying to convince them of our sound logic or impeccable reasoning, we should engage them on a deeper level. This is a narrow road and can easily lead to manipulation and propaganda, but, nevertheless, the need to engage people on a deeper level than simply the intellect is ever-present. Subject to abuse -yes. But necessary for effective Christian living – also yes.
“I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that we are walking around shining like the sun.” – Thomas Merton (in Nouwen’s ‘Reaching Out’)
I have nothing against Muslims, one of my best friends is Muslim, but this is seriously funny! 🙂
“The more costly an experience is to us, the greater its significance in our lives and the more it occupies our minds – and also the more we are afraid of its being misunderstood, or that it will be cheapened by some misapplied remark or suspicion. The more refined and subtle our minds, the more vulnerable they are. When we are alone we are haunted by doubts about the genuineness of our deepest intuitions and feelings…Thus, although we are made to suffer by reason of the discordance between our personage and our person…nevertheless, we carefully foster it for fear of having our person hurt if we reveal its most precious treasures. This is often what happens with our artistic, philosophical or religious convictions. We feel they are still too fragile to stand up to being judged and even brutally contradicted by others. But our convictions are never really clear and firm until they have been expressed and defended.“
-Paul Tournier (The Meaning of Persons)
For me this is very true. Those experiences which have made the deepest impressions in our lives are usually the ones we are least willing to address. Whether implicitly through repression or explicitly through denial, we simply do not want to face up to the pain of talking about our darkest moments, fears or doubts. And yet God, in His infinite wisdom, created us in such a way that communication and sharing are prerequisites for full healing, wholeness and hence happiness. First we need to find people who we can trust and who will truly hear us, and then we need to be those people to others.
“The disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition…is…the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments” – Adam Smith