Feeling God Informs Knowing God

July 6, 2024 by Charlie Hedges − 4 Comments

… people who do not feel deeply finally do not knowdeeply either.” Richard Rohr

My image of God lacks imagination.

Of all that the Image of God might truthfully represent, I continue to imagine, before anything else, a God of judgment. You know… that God who is mostly interested in keeping score with his long list of things naughty or nice.

The Mistake: Failing to Feel

But then, as soon as these thoughts seem as if they are taking precedence, I automatically wander off into the lands of a “theology of grace.” I find myself negotiating spirits of punishment and grace, the ones in which grace always wins… in my head but not always in my deepest heart.

And so I think my way out of feeling. A mistake. That’s because it I am learning that feelings bear more truth for the soul than does the mind. By relying on the use of thinking I have failed to personalize that truth. It is only when I give permission to view my feelings as authoritative that I can truly venture into the mighty realms of grace.

Job: The Feeler

Richard Rohr points out that when Job validates his feelings of frustration and despair, he ultimately discovers the genuine side of a God of goodness. Richard writes…

Job is unafraid to feel his feelings. He acts and speaks them out. Emotions ought to be allowed to run their course. They are not right or wrong; they are merely indicators of what is happening. It is only because Job is willing to feel his emotions that he is able to come to grips with the mystery in his head and heart and gut.

I am coming to understand that the human being of divine orientation is perhaps more ready to learn with the heart than it is with the head. The problem common to us thinkers may be that the head leads, most generally, to dualistic right or wrong perspectives when many of the biblical writers, especially the Psalmists were more interested in feeling God than understanding him.

Feeling the Psalms and the Gospels

And such has been my filters of late. Reading the Psalms and the Gospels I find myself falling into emotional states of being—of love and of beauty. Jesus’ healings and speaking words lead me to worship more than obedience.

I think of the Dominican and Benedictine rules of poverty, obedience, and chastity and feel that something is missing.

What about the rules of love and worship? Of joy and divine pleasure. As written in the opening line of the Episcopal Eucharistic liturgy, “Oh Lord, in your infinite love you created us for yourself.” Eucharist as a love story. Oh, if I had to choose obedience or love. I would opt for the latter.

Feeling God

Directs My Thinking of God

Photo courtesy of by-studio at istockphoto

4 thoughts on “Feeling God Informs Knowing God”

  1. I could not agree more. For me, thinking, rules, dogma, and ideology of any stripe create a direct path away from God. It is only through my heart and my contact with other human beings and, in fact, all of creation that I experience God. For me, trite though it may sound, God is love.

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