Spiritual Discipline: Overcoming Emotions

…if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. — Jesus (Matthew 5: 22)

Emotions are neither good nor bad. They just are. How we handle them, well, that’s the subject of many books, advanced degrees, time spent in therapy, time that should have been spent in therapy.

I wrote a series of posts a few years ago based on the book, Emotional Intelligence. I’ve spent a lifetime overcoming some of the emotions I was exposed to as a child–anger, anxiety. I bet you all have your own set of emotions that, when they capture too much of our energy.

When it’s time to grieve, grieve. And when your friend grieves, grieve with her or him. When it’s time to move on, move on. And so it is with other emotions. Sometimes it is right to be angry.

But out of emotions riding unchecked, come things that hurt others and ourselves. We say things we shouldn’t have said. We expose our lack of maturity.

Don’t we all see things, read things, hear things that can ruin our day–or at least set us back a little? The other person was just giving vent to unbridled emotions.

I was on the Internet before there was a Web (yes, there was such a time). And there were groups (called UseGroups) where people gathered to share information on a topic. And, lo, there came “trolls” who would say hurtful things. And then came the Web and blogging. And people shared information and thoughts. And, lo, the trolls followed to the new medium. And hurt people deeply. It’s so easy when it’s late at night and your emotions are riding high, and it’s just words on a screen.

And then came new ways of sharing such as Facebook and others. And lo, we could all become trolls in general, venting forth our anger, fear, hate.

And people have not changed despite teaching, research, books.

2,000 years ago, Jesus dealt with this:

You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’ and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgement.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgement; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire.’

Keeping your peace when you feel like venting is a Spiritual Discipline. It’s that moment between the urge and the keyboard or mouth when you have the opportunity for a deep breath. In the pause, you can reflect, “Of what use is this that I am about to say? Does it uplift? Or tear down?”

In that pause, we have the opportunity to show the true status of our hearts.

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