A desperate, emaciated woman pours out the last remnants of her resources before discovering bounty overflowing.
An ostracized, unclean woman dares to touch a holy man’s clothes. Before all those who shunned her, she’s acknowledged and restored.
A seller of her body to the night caresses and balms the feet of her defender. Before the religious elite, she’s chosen as the worthy one to anoint the Messiah.
I envy these women.
I covet them, not for their lot in life, but rather their encounter with the physicality of the miraculous and the physicality of the man.
Wouldn’t it be nice to feel something? I mean tangibly feel something physical. To feel the embrace of your rescuer. To feel the strength of a man who could pull you up to stand atop water and scoff at the laws of physics.
I for one catch myself longing for such physical experiences. What can I say? I’m a bonafide feeler who makes sense of truth and reality with the feelings I experience. Speaking for all the feelers out there: those feelings are never in short supply.
It doesn’t take much for me to get swept away by my emotions. Artful moments are somewhat of an obsession of mine.
Like the overwhelming beauty of basking in the view of a castle lit up with exploding colors in the sky, simultaneously to the soundtrack of your childhood. Thank you, Disney.
And when such transcendently magical experiences manifest, you can be sure I’m geeking out in the corner somewhere oo-ing and ah-ing at the cinematic value of it all.
Thanks to Pixar’s Inside Out, we can observe the dramatic comedy of our internal/external human experience entertaining the world at large, complete with personified emotions. Shout out to Director, Pete Doctor, for helping this twenty-six-year-old better understand her own emotional experience more in an hour-and-a-half than any university psychology course. But I digress.
Many of us are motivated by belief via feelings. And I’m actually cool with that. I’m one of those.
Depending upon your background in faith, some are largely moved into a “spiritual” state of worship or adoration to Yahweh, by feelings. Before you leave this page with the impression that this is headed for an anti-feelings op-ed coercing you to abandon your emotions in exchange for reciting truth to yourself until you believe it…please don’t bounce just yet.
Consider this an entry level prompt for tactile exploration with an intangible God-Spirit. In other words, let’s get in touch with how to practically make contact with our Creator.
I’ve encountered a wide range of folks who don’t feel their way into their beliefs and experiences. Those individuals may find this article completely un-relatable personally but can take away real value and understanding for their neighbor who grapples their way through the complexity of faith with their intangible feelings.
Nevertheless, when our feelings don’t manifest just so, many of us feelers question our authenticity, our love for God – our entire devotion falls into question.
I for one have experienced this. Worrying about the status of my own heart, I wonder things like, “Do I even really connect to all of this?”, which you can imagine being quite disconcerting as a Myers Briggs-identified ENFP “feeler.”
Let’s pause for a moment and consider how we would feel if a friend wanted to do the same thing every week in and week out. The consistency would be nice and welcomed even; however, the narrow range of our interaction and relation with said friend would allow for a limited level of connection. We would grow weary of the way we encountered them, but not necessarily grow tired of the friend altogether.
So let’s mix it up. Let’s imagine that the variety of ways we encounter the One we worship, also elicits a variety of connecting points to Him.
After all, we enjoy the presence of friends in part by how we feel when we are around them. In the same way, we enjoy connection with God through our feelings and experience, with only our imaginations to hold us back from the unlimited number of mediums with which we can connect with Him.
The specific feeling of being with someone compels us to draw near to that person, and our feelings and emotions can be best explored in mediums that are physical.
Why else are we drawn to the Jesus who wrote [dare I imagine Him possibly drawing] in the sand as He set a publicly shamed woman free from her accusers? Or what about the starving woman who just kept pouring her near-empty jar of oil into her lack-turned-to-overflowing home of brimming jars? And what about that woman who just had to feel Jesus’ clothes to experience the healing she knew He carried? He felt her. He responded to her physical reach.
Forgiveness met empowerment.
Faith released provision.
Desperation dispensed healing.
Is there something to the physical act of taking the risk of movement toward Him? Could there be a key here for us feelers and non-self-proclaimed feelers alike? Perhaps we are invited into a space of knowledge that goes beyond theory and ventures into the realm of touching, feeling and embracing.
By faith, our ancestors took action. By faith, we take creative risks expectant that we will connect with God.
Pick up the pen. Sift through the dirt. Drag the painted brush. Step barefoot to grass. Hammer nail to wood. Swing the bat. Rearrange the furniture. Pour the drink.
He made something. He fashioned something. He incarnated Himself for us.
We are invited to respond in kind, by incarnating ourselves, physicalizing our faith unto Him.
Putting pen to paper, movement to emotion, color to canvas as a faith act of incarnating our own desire to connect with the One who first incarnated Himself as The Word—The Expression.
Today you’re invited to partake in something physical as your prayer. That something physical is not just the accent to your prayer or even the simultaneous activity accompanying your prayer. Your physical action IS your prayer. The thing you do. The thing you physically touch. The thing you make.
Perhaps both the things you find joyless and things in which you delight might be shared with your Creator. You know, He just might enjoy sharing those moments with you as well.
Maybe He even feels like showing you a little something about Himself in your risk to physically feel and take action. And maybe you’ll discover He’s not so intangible after all.
Image via Hailey Kean