Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Highs and Lows

One of the things I do on vacation is buy the latest issue of People Magazine and read it from cover to cover. Guilty pleasure. So last week, I read about how Tatum O'Neill is dealing with her big mistake of trying to buy some illegal drug a couple of weeks ago. She was arrested and spent 36 hours in a jail cell. She said that she was feeling depressed. Her beloved dog had just died, and I can't remember what else triggered her profound feelings of sadness. One line in the article reminded me of something I've thought about before.... She said she just didn't want to be feeling the way she was feeling, so she decided to get high and escape. I've also heard this kind of thing said on that Intervention show.

This idea of "not wanting to feel the way we're feeling" is intriguing to me. I think it motivates a lot of behavior in our society. It doesn't always lead to doing drugs or addiction.

We don't want to feel too fat, too sad, too old, too stressed, too angry, too out of control, too controlled by others. Think of all the things we do to avoid feelings. We long to be on an even keel, flat. Why are we so afraid of feeling? People even pay big money for things like Botox...so that our faces show no expression at all. We bleach our teeth so there's no evidence of our having been alive for a few decades. We value privacy, so we can feel our stuff behind closed doors. It's in style to look flawless, clear, unmarked by life. Pretty wild.

But God did not create us flat. Or flawless. Or emotionless. I think of the verses in Ecclesiastes:
For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, NLT

Sometimes it's completely right and appropriate to be sad or mad, or out-of-your-head happy. It's the way we were made. It's all a part of life, which God designed. What a goofy thing that we run around like a dog chasing its tail, trying to capture the feelings we want, and running away from the ones we don't want.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This concept is something that confounds me as well. I especially noticed the “push” not to feel after my dad died. I had several people – friends, relatives – all well-meaning, advising me to be sure and talk to my doctor to get medication to help me deal with my sadness. I was not suicidal or depressed, I was sad. I was supposed to be sad. I think in our society we have a complete lack of patience for the emotional processes we are supposed to go through during times of stress and loss. I believe these emotions are there for a reason and as hard as it may be to tolerate them sometimes, they still hold tremendous value. My favorite was an article I read giving advice about how to avoid all those pesky wrinkles and laugh lines. It advised being aware of the faces you make when laughing or worrying and work hard to not repetitively make these faces. I’ll keep my laugh lines, thank-you-very-much and I’m happy to say that they outnumber my frown lines. Now that is something to celebrate!