“Life was simpler in the good ol’ days.” Sound familiar? Do you agree or disagree?
I’d say it’s true in many ways. People used their brains more than their emotions back then. Self-control, discipline, logic, and truth were king. Nowadays, these virtues are ridiculed more often than they are respected. In a society fueled by emotion, what if we made a point to be different?
The current popular mentality sounds something like this: If you feel something, it’s true for you. Follow your feelings. (Even if that means cheating on your spouse and destroying your family … Even if it means severing family relationships for petty reasons and living a lifetime of regret).
When you boil it down, our emotions lie to us, but we often eat these lies up as truth. We think if we feel something, it’s a part of us. It becomes who we are–something we can’t change.
This is a lie.
Emotions are a Blessing
Emotions are God-given, but just like every other good God-given gift (talents, money, sex, etc.), humans easily distort the gift until it becomes bad. This is how we end up holding grudges, dealing with unchecked anger, or letting disappointment dictate our lives. We need to seek God’s help in order to strive for healthy emotional responses (sometimes he may direct us to professional help). With His help, we can train our brains to reign over our emotions.
Emotions aren’t bad; they are beautiful, wonderful things. In fact, God has emotions! But when emotions start leading us instead of the other way around, we walk into some murky waters and usually end up with regrets.
Emotions Need Controlled
My husband recently told me he read that the most successful leaders are those who listen to other perspectives, being willing to change course as they are convinced it is correct. They don’t go into a situation ready to demand their own way. People follow them because they listen as they lead. They’re reasonable. Steady. Is that you? Is that me?
When we hold conversations with others who hold differing views, do emotions rule our words? Do we let our emotions run the show to the point of losing the other person’s trust and respect? If so, that’s a good sign we need to be deliberate in managing our emotions.
A Higher Standard
As I have been writing fiction that takes place in the 1940s, it’s been fun to dive into the research. Things were much more proper and disciplined then because people knew and accepted that it was irresponsible to run your life by emotion.
The world seems to have forgotten these basics. These days, if you don’t run your life by emotion, you’re labelled as stuffy, unaccepting, or old-fashioned. That’s fine by me. Those labels certainly don’t hurt my feelings when I know I’m holding myself to a higher standard.
We need to rise to a higher standard for ourselves and for society. Society is unraveling for lack of morals and structure, in favor of doing whatever feels good. It’s time to flip that narrative on its head. The only way for society to function in good health is for us to function as healthy individuals. If we don’t, we invite worlds of regret and broken relationships, and we miss out on the depth that God and life have to offer.
What God Says
I’m not saying it’s easy to put boundaries on our emotions, nor can I give you easy steps to do so. Heaven knows I haven’t figured it out yet, but I do know lots of prayer and determination are in order.
But what does the Bible say about emotions? A lot. Here are just a few relevant verses:
- “One who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and one whose temper is controlled than one who captures a city.” – Proverbs 16:32
- “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.” – Proverbs 15:18
- “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” -Jeremiah 17:9
- “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.” – Philippians 2:3
As a Christ-follower, I want to look different than the world. While the world around us explodes with fear and anger, what if we refused to join in? What if, instead, we looked to Jesus to be our anchor and source of steadiness? That’s the picture of emotional health I want to strive for.
Let me know in the comments how I can pray for you today! And if you have strategies for keeping your emotions in check, I would love to hear them. Thanks for reading, and have a great week!
Also, if you’re looking for some Christian fiction for yourself or your teen, head over to jessiemattis.com/books to check out my books and download my newest novella, Love on a Whim, for free!