Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Why Feelings Don't Matter: My Take On Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner

Heyyyy!!!!!!!!! I am BACK, y'all!! Aren't you beyond excited? I know this might just be one of the best days you've had all year.

I took a little blogging hiatus, needing a mental writing break. But I'm back. I hope to write maybe a post a week and get back into the groove of things, now that Mary is older and not nursing anymore.

So there's been a lot of speculation out there about the Bruce-Caitlyn sex change operation. And, since I'm very opinionated, and I have a blog, I decided I'd write about it.

A few things before I begin:
1) I realize that in writing this, there is a great possibility I will get hateful comments because my opinion is in the "less loud" category. I'm not going to say my opinion is in the minority, because I believe there are many people out there who might agree with me but are afraid to voice their opinion for fear that they will get bullied. If you disagree with me, I respect that. All I ask is that you keep any comments kind and rational. If I feel a comment is not kind or rational, I will delete it.

2) Many people feel very strongly about which name is used for Bruce/Caitlyn. For this blog post, I will refer to him as Caitlyn, simply because he did legally change his name and I will respect that.

3) Remember, most of all, that disagreement DOES NOT equal hate or judgement. You might disagree with my point of view, but I don't think you hate me. So I ask that you remember the same about me.

Catholics generally have a good understanding of feelings...and why they don't really matter. This is a large reason why the Catholic Church is sometimes unpopular: because today's society bases almost EVERYTHING on feelings. People leave the Catholic Church all the time because they don't "get anything out of it"... or they don't feel it. People get divorced because they just don't feel anything for each other anymore. People (myself especially) don't get much done around the house because they don't feel like it.

In our sensationalized culture, it's almost like people expect to have a constant feeling of gratification. They call this "happiness." But is it really? I'd like to put in my two cents from my own personal experience.

When I was younger, I felt God's presence all the time. I had absolutely no doubt in my mind about His existence, and prayer came very easily to me. I didn't realize it at the time, but this was an incredible gift God gave me. Because very soon after Elizabeth was born, my life came to a screeching halt and everything I previously knew, or felt, about God (and life in general) dramatically changed.

As I struggled through a lot of postpartum emotional issues, I struggled even more with the fact that I no longer "felt" God in my life. It was like a huge comfort had been suddenly ripped away from me. I started to question the existence of God, if God was really there for me, and who God really was.

Despite all this uncertainty I felt, I knew deep down in the back of my mind that I must keep going. Even though I didn't get any emotional fulfillment from church or prayer, I continued to, as they say, "show up." There were (and still are) times when the last thing I ever wanted to do was pray. But I did it anyway. Imagine dragging a kicking and screaming toddler away from a TV show and leading her to a kitchen table to eat her vegetables instead (not that I would ever know what that would be like since my children never have tantrums...ahem...) That was sort of how I viewed prayer. I whined lot about it in my mind...But God..I don't WANNNNAAA pray right now. I WANNA WATCH TV!!!!! 

I am still struggling, as we all are to some degree or another. But through this period of over two years, I am realizing one thing: My feelings are not an indicator of how much God loves me.

Feelings do not equal love, and feelings do not equal happiness. Sure, happy emotions might be a product of love or happiness. But that doesn't mean they are one in the same.

Our culture crucifies anyone who says otherwise. Everyone should have the right to do whatever feels good, right? Or, as the popular saying goes: who are we to judge? It doesn't affect me, so why do I care?

I would argue that it does affect me...and it affects me very much. My children are going to grow up in a confusing, uncertain world where nothing is concrete and reality no longer exists. And we are already in a world where those who disagree with popular opinion are verbally (and sometimes physically) assulted and put on the same level as racists.

Caitlyn Jenner is, no matter how much plastic surgery or how many operations he gets, a man. He might feel differently...but DNA does not lie. I have compassion for him and for any other people who are genuinely confused about their identity and are searching for happiness. But the word I would like to emphasize is this: confused. There are people who surgically alter themselves to look like reptiles and felines. Some of these people genuinely believe they should have been born an animal instead of a human. And as much as they can try to look like the said animal, they will never truly be one. They were born human, and in essence will be a human for the rest of their lives. Should we support their skewed vision of reality? I don't think so.

I truly hope Caitlyn Jenner is happy. I hope that he somehow finds what he is looking for. I hope that his children, his ex-wives, and his family are coping with the certain confusion and emotional upheaval that must come with this life altering decision. Rather than focusing on what feels good, perhaps instead we need to ask ourselves this question: What is happiness?

Happiness is an act, and the act is this: serving others. Whenever we put others before ourselves is when we will truly be happy. Trust me, you are hearing this from me, who is probably one of the most selfish people out there. I struggle with this constantly. As in...I have to have actual conversations with myself to put my selfish inclinations behind me. And I fail at it. A lot. But sometimes, (only with God's help), I am victorious. And when I do serve others, I have a deep sense of peace that pervades my being. Does it "feel" good to be unselfish? Not usually. But in this case, as in most, my feelings are not an indicator of what is right and wrong.