"Act your way into a better way of feeling"... The first time I heard that little saying was in 1974....34 years ago! Whoa! I cannot believe how times flies. That's another blog for another time. Anyway. Gary and I were in Chicago at a weekend Marriage Retreat hosted by Paul Faulkner and Carl Breechen (two really cool professors from Abilene Christian University). Believe it or not, Gary is the one who suggested we attend the retreat. See, what kind of sweet hubby he is? What husband actually wants to go to a marriage retreat without being forced to? Sorry, gals, he's all mine.
While at the retreat one of the speakers was talking about relationships and how sometimes we just can't count on our 'feelings' getting us through something challenging. In fact, sometimes our feelings totally let us down. Sometimes, our feelings entrap us and convince us that things will never be good again and that life is a mess and always will be so why bother. Well, what Carl, or was it Paul? was saying is that sometimes in marriage we stop 'feeling' love and the only way to get that feeling back is to act like we still feel it. Go through all the motions. Get up in the mornings and kiss him/her good morning. Fix breakfast and place a rose by the bacon. Call her in the middle of the afternoon just to say 'Hi'. Get what I'm saying? Paul or Carl, said that eventually if you act like you love this person and put all of your heart and soul into it, there is a good chance, you will once again, actually feel love for them again.
I've got to tell you--not only has that bit of advice probably enhanced my own marriage ten-fold through these last 34 years, it has also gotten me through some other challenges along the way. Our family has had a pretty tough couple of years. If you read my last blog entry, you read about my botched knee replacement surgery, which resulted in a second knee replacement surgery on the same knee. What fun is that?! Also, my husband lost both of his parents within the same year. One of my dearest friends died suddenly with cancer--diagnosed in June and gone by October. One of our sons was in ICU for four days, another son has been suffering through a depression and my lovely 80-year-old mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent surgery and radiation treatments, and last spring our dog died. Dooley, the most faithful and generous yellow lab ever born became sick and died one sunny Saturday morning from a very brief illness (actually, we think he was a victim of the dog food poisoning that was happening around the country last year at this time). Devastated! Devastated! Devastated! I finally became undone...emotionally, spiritually and physically done in....and joy left me.
I felt no joy. I felt no promise of joy. I forgot what joy felt like.
And, then I remembered...'act your way into a better way of feeling.' Yeah...right. So one day recently, I woke up and decided to act joyful--just a little joyful--not a whole lot joyful--a smidgeon of joy would do for the first day. I showered. I took a walk. I climbed up to my office and continued work on my book ( a book that has taken a 'hit' from all of the above. Who can write when their dog has died?), and I watched a heron walk around the edge of our pond. I just stood there quietly and watched. Okay, enough joy acting for one day.
And then...I woke up the next day and showered and took a walk and worked on my book and called a friend and...enough joy acting for another day.
And then...I woke up and took a shower and....THEN not long ago, I woke up, sat up and before I took my shower, I found myself humming. What was this? Humming? Joyless people do not hum. Only joyful people hum, right? I was no longer pretending to be joyful, I actually FELT joy. Joy! Real joy! Mind you I didn't throw myself a party, or dance. I just hummed...because I felt joy. I acted my way back into a better way of feeling.
I'm just saying....if you are being challenged right now with something very hard and don't think you'll get through it, you might want to get up in the morning and take a shower and a walk and...if God is the Wonder I know Him to be, humming will come...it will...it truly will.