This morning in my 12-step work (Healing Through Christ), I read this parable:
“An elder Apache was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, ‘A fight is going on inside me; it is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, self-pity, guilt, resentment, lies, and pride. The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. This same fight is going on inside you and inside every other person too.’ The grandchildren thought about the story for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather, ‘Which wolf will win?’ The old Grandfather simply replied, ‘The one you feed.’"
The follow-up question was, "Which wolf do you feed most often?"
It got me thinking (which was the point, yes I know). I've really been doing a lot of self-evaluation lately. In my efforts to allow myself to feel, rather than push away my pain, I think I allowed myself to feed the first wolf. I got to the point where fear, anger, self-pity, and resentment ruled me. I wasn't just feeding them--I felt like I was them. (So maybe I was feeding ME to the wolf?)
It's important to feel the emotions that come with this situation. When you push them away, they build up pressure and explode. And it's not pretty--not pretty at all. It's a most painful explosion, and any hope remaining could quickly diminish with the aftermath of that kind of explosion. Pushing away emotions is rarely the best response.
There lies a fine line between feeling the emotions but not letting them rule you. I don't know, maybe letting them rule you is just part of the process, but I'd like to think that you could appropriately deal with the emotions without becoming a casualty and being ruled by them. That's what I'm trying to figure out right now. I don't know where the line is between feeling the emotions and not letting them rule you, but I am certainly trying to discover it.
I want to feed the second wolf, the good wolf. I have been working on feeding that wolf more often. It comes through self-care. The more I care about myself and meet my needs (physical, spiritual, emotional, intellectual), the easier it is to feel joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, etc.--even if it's in tiny doses at a time.
I have felt the good wolf pulling out of the muck lately. I have felt a great increase in those positive emotions. It's not been an easy process, and I'm still hard at work. Sometimes I need to allow myself time to sit in the negative emotions, but I also need to pull myself back up and lean on Christ to feel the positive ones.
I had a moment on Friday where I felt truly, deeply happy. A feeling I haven't felt in a LONG time. Over the last little while, I've felt the tides turning, and I feel more hope than despair. That is a good thing. For the past however long, I've felt more despair than hope. I am excited for the changes coming my way, and I hope and pray that I can continue to turn my life over to God. I do know that it is through Him that I have gained the strength, hope, and peace I am currently feeling in my life.
Which wolf are you feeding?