Ever since I was child, I had a hunger for knowledge and understanding.
I loved reading, writing, studying, and debating. As a high schooler, I explored different philosophical schools of thought and read excerpts of the great thinkers like Aquinas and Aristotle. I tried to delve deeply into the nature of things and "penetrate the inner workings of the immaterial universe", etc. When I entered college, I was in love with how naturally philosophical work came to me, and I devoured it.
I learned to trust my mind, and I learned to rise above my emotions to think logically and objectively about things.
It wasn't until later that I started to realize that I was stuck in a sort of tension between my heart and my head. I had developed an aversion to feelings, judging them to be nasty, unreliable things that made women overly emotional, sensitive and a general pain to be around. I liked being clear-headed and not "falling prey" to them. I liked quotes that put those out of control feelings in their place:
"Don't bother too much about your feelings. When they are humble, loving, brave, give thanks for them; when they are conceited, selfish, cowardly, ask to have them altered. In neither case are they you, but only a thing that happens to you. What matters is your intentions and your behavior."
It really wasn't until I re-discovered the philosophy of Dietrich von Hildebrand that I began to understand the role of true feelings, and how they could still matter and be holy things that made me better. True feelings were a response to value. I had always been confused about what the human "heart" truly was when it was spoken of in theology and philosophy, because I had so often thought of the head and heart in opposition to one another. I had thought of the heart as the seat of emotions; Hildebrand calls the heart "the seat of the will."
The heart as the seat of the will made so much sense to me, and it breathed new life into my understanding and acceptance of my whole personhood, feelings and all. The will moved me to action, the will brought about my decisions, the will actualized my immaterial thoughts and dreams. The will was alive.
The part of me that actualized my intellectual endeavors was the very thing that was simultaneously the wellspring of my emotive self, and in that context, feelings didn't seem too bad after all. In fact, I began to see them as beautiful.
I began to see myself in light of this truth: that my being is a beautiful dance of thinking, feeling, and doing that all constitutes reality. If conflicting or out of touch emotions come up within me, I do have the ability to rise above and to left them wash over me. If the feelings that emerge within me stir me to good things, then I can judge them to be growing from a place of truth. Then, my active embracing of heartfelt feelings makes me more powerful, more authentic then I was ever without them.
Guadium et Spes proclaims:
"Christ reveals man to man...in Him, all truths find their root and attain their crown."
...all of the truths of man. Not just the intellectual or the mind, or just the feelings and the emotions, but all the wonderful and mysterious parts of the person.
So, be thoughtful. Be provokingly fierce. Be one who seeks certitude and understanding relentlessly.
So, be tender. Be soft. Be one who feels deeply and truthfully from the innermost workings of their own immaterial universe.
Because He now tells me, "Be all of these things."
Because I find that, in Him, all the facets of the great dance of mind and heart find their richest meaning.