Words of Hope: Emotional Discernment

I admire how my dad navigated his emotions.  

He grew very calm under duress. When others became aggressive, he became clearer-headed. He slowed down, spoke less, and listened more attentively.  

This didn’t happen all the time but in the intense business meetings I attended with Dad, most of the time he became very aware of emotion.  

Dad believed emotions were a gift and instead of burying them away or cutting them off, he paid close attention to what they were saying. This happened after years of discounting emotion and attempting to live without feeling.  

Dad loved the teaching of Ignatius on emotion. According to Ignatius, emotions inform us to slow down and pay closer attention. To Ignatius, emotions were one of the most important ways the soul communicates with God. When we are upset and sad without knowing why, this is an important indication to listen and discover what God is saying.  

I have learned this lesson the hard way. In one business relationship I felt tremendous anxiety and could not sleep. I could find no peace. I didn’t feel I had the authority to say, “I do not feel comfortable with this situation.” Instead, I blamed myself for being too anxious. In hindsight these emotions should have been listened to, processed, and examined with prayer. I should have communicated that I cannot move forward until I come to peace.  

Ignatius taught negative emotions are warnings we are not on the right path and that we could be heading in the wrong direction. He advised others to listen, to consider that something is not right, and to pause before blindly soldiering on.  

I have learned in my unrest and tormented state I must cry out to God and wait until the answers become peaceful and clear. God is not a God of confusion. God’s spirit will bring consolation when I seek Him in my desolation.  

I appreciated watching Dad learn what a tremendous gift emotions are when used with discernment.  

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on you. – Isaiah 26:3