It was the kind of blog headline that appeals to the self-delusion that characterizes the darkness into which our post-Christian Western civilization has sunk: “Your feelings are your truth.”
Feelings are important, of course. That’s undeniable. But they are NOT the truth. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He said so 2,000 years ago and His words still ring true today, no matter what is going on around us.
As to the second part of that egregious headline, there’s no such thing as “my” truth or “your” truth. Our opinions or feelings or insights cannot change the facts. And the facts can be summed up like this: Mankind was in a relationship with God that was broken by the sin of our first parents. Jesus loves us so much that He came into the world to heal that relationship. He died for our sins so that we could be happy with Him forever in heaven. It’s up to us to pick up our cross and follow Him, even when we might not feel like it.
In an era of social media and ubiquitous memes proclaiming every kind of “truth” except Christ, we need to stay rooted in Scripture and in the sacraments so that proclamations such as “Your feelings are your truth” immediately strike us as fundamentally flawed.
As The Soulful Catholic, I’ll admit to being a person who feels things deeply. I once turned down a solid job offer because, well, my heart just wasn’t in it.
I’ve cried my eyes out in confession, but I’ve also been known to get choked up at movies. (OK, even commercials get to me sometimes.)
Still, there are times when I’ve felt absolutely nothing in the confessional beyond the requisite level of remorse for my sins. And yet I know in my rational mind — I know with absolute certainty — that my sins are forgiven.
I know that because the grace of the sacraments doesn’t depend on our feelings at all. The grace of the sacraments is 100 percent real whether it stirs up our emotions or leaves us with simply the realization of God’s gracious gift of forgiveness.
We can test this assertion by making a solid commitment to confess our sins regularly (at least once a month) and then experiencing God’s grace at work in our lives. Those temptations that come our way? We’ve been armed with the grace of the sacraments and it’s just easier to reject sin.
The same goes for receiving Communion. There are times when my heart simply soars and I can feel myself being held in the arms of God. Then there are the occasions when there’s a tickle in my throat or I’m plagued by a thousand distractions or I can’t seem to focus. No matter what’s going on with our emotions, the truth is that when we’ve received the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, we’ve been empowered and healed and entrusted with a mission to go forth and be an agent of His light and love in the world.
Staying rooted in God’s word and the sacraments will help us avoid falling into traps like being led by our emotions. That’s where discipline comes in. We might not always feel like reading the Bible, but if we make a commitment to do so at least five minutes a day, we’ll find ourselves being strengthened by God’s word to resist the devil. Make it a little easier by subscribing to Magnificat or sign up for the daily Mass readings here.
Similarly, we might not always feel like going to Sunday Mass. That’s why the discipline of having it as an obligation helps keep us on the right course. Left to our own human frailty and the temptations all around us, it would be so easy to drift away from God!
No matter how we feel, we can always know with absolute certainty that God is real, that He loves us and that He’s as close as our next breath. We can always depend on His love and truth. Feelings come and go, but God is here to stay. His truth has conquered the darkness and will never, ever, let us down.