How important are my emotions? Do my emotions control me or do I control my emotions? Which should be in control? Happiness, it is a socially acceptable emotion, and it does not make observers uncomfortable like anger or grief does. Unfortunately, happiness is frequently more fleeting than other emotions. I must be in control of my anger. I cannot rage verbally or physically when angry. Certainly there are times when I am overcome by grief and grieving is something to be worked through and not avoided. I have learned the hard way that my heart can’t be trusted. If I had stopped listening to the worlds message to follow my heart I would have had less problems in by life. Emotions are powerful and can lead me to sin. Num 15:9, 2 Chron 12:14, Mt 15:19. But there are good emotions like compassion, joy, love, mercy, hope. These reflect God’s character. How much influence do your emotions have on your decisions?
The Disciplined Mind
Perhaps disciplined is not the right word for our culture. For me, the first thing that comes to my mind when I say disciplined is childhood punishments. This is unfortunate. A better definition is a mind that is under our control. The benefits of a disciplined mind are enormous, priceless perhaps. The mind may be where some of the greatest battles are fought. I can’t recall the last time I heard the exhortation to think something through. It takes time and effort to think. It probably gets easier and faster with practice. To be able to set aside ruminating, lies, anxiousness and circular thinking, especially at night, is a skill many of us do not have. In our society, a quick fix to these problems is medicine. Antianxiety and antidepressant medications sure are popular and control the symptoms. After a few days of taking medicine, the person is sleeping better. Soon the problems or anxious thoughts don’t seem so insurmountable. They feel better but nothing is solved. The root cause is not searched for.
Why don’t we think? Is it the instant culture we live in? We live in an age where, with a computer or smart phone, the facts of the world are at our fingertips. It is faster and easier to learn facts than learn how to thing. I there are other reasons we don’t think but the maybe’s and whys are for another time.
Contrary to the world, we are not commanded to just do it, but we are called to think. I was never encouraged to reflect on my day. “Life” can seem so big and daunting. Some Christian writers exhort us to reflect on life. But more often, our generation of Christians has been encouraged to rely on our emotions. We seek emotional experiences; we doubt conversion because something emotional did not happen. Or the feeling did not last. The problem with relying on emotions is that they are fleeting. Wait a few hours or the next day and where is that fantastic feeling? If something went wrong, the feelings can last a long time, out of proportion to the incident. Solomon describes a person who trusts his own heart as a fool. Prov 26.23 These are strong words. Jeremiah is equally uncomplimentary, calling the heart deceitful, sick and not understandable. Jer 17:9. We know this from experience.
But when we prayerfully reflect on our day, we can see patterns of how we interact with others, how we used the resources of time, possessions, and influence. We may see a way out.