Archive for the ‘emotions’ Category

Speaking Your Mind

March 4, 2021

Saying whatever comes to mind without an interposing filter–describes every two-year-old everywhere.

Also most sixteen-year-olds who have learned much, but whose brains are not yet fully developed.

I knew a person who would often find trouble with the bosses by always “speaking the truth.” Unfortunately, that version of the truth was always negative, tearing down the reputation of companies and people.

Many people today wan to say whatever they want (true or not) whenever they wish without regard for consequences. If perpetuating lies forwards my perceived best interests, then fine.

These feelings are not modern.

The Apostle James wrote in the first Century about the dangers of speaking without thinking. The tongue, he said, is a tiny organ that can cause great trouble.

Saint Gregory of Nyssa said, “Divinity is purity, it is liberation from the passions and the removal of every evil: if all these things are in you, God is truly in you.”

He also said [pronouns changed to include us all], “You must always examine your own thoughts, your own words, and your own actions in the innermost depths to see whether they are oriented to Christ or are drifting away from him.”

I like those words “oriented” and “drifting away.” I could probably write an entire book just on the meaning of those.

More and More Useless Information

February 4, 2021

When I’m drivin’ in my car, and the man comes on the radio
He’s tellin’ me more and more about some useless information
Supposed to fire my imagination.
I can’t get no, oh no no no, hey, hey, hey
That’s what I say
I can’t get no satisfaction, I can’t get no satisfaction.
–Rolling Stones

It was 1965. I was 17 sitting in a pub across the street from the University of Cincinnati campus. Upstairs was a big room with wooden picnic tables for the patrons. Bunch of nerdy guys. We sang out to “I can’t get no” and “Hey, you, get off of my cloud…two’s a crowd.”

We grew up. But some of us Boomers tried to overthrow the government. We’re still living the Stones of our youth. And we’ve become more and more gullible about the man on the radio (TV, Internet now) telling us more and more about some useless information.

Pick your poison, as they used to say in the movies. You can find your favorite flavor of poison without looking very hard.

It is so important to discern what to fill your mind with. It can feed my base emotions and desires for individual satisfaction. It can feed my mind with the kind of satisfaction that only comes from living in the spirit.

Writers for millennia have described the problem and the consequences. Take the story of Rehoboam in the Hebrew Bible, grandson of the famous King David. This happened almost 3,000 years ago. He was just about to be anointed King. He had two groups of advisors. He rejected the wise and listened to his young friends who filled his mind with more and more of some useless information.

On the day of what should have been his greatest satisfaction, he lost most of the Kingdom. What took his grandfather and father years to build, he destroyed in a day. He was seeking satisfaction.

Don’t Be A Slave To Emotions

December 8, 2020

Seven Things Mindful People Do:

  1. Practicebeingcurious
  2. Forgive themselves
  3. Hold their emotions lightly
  4. Practice compassion
  5. Make peace with imperfection
  6. Embrace vulnerability
  7. Understand all things come and go

That moment is seared in my memory. That last time I succumbed entirely to an emotion that I allowed to completely rule over me. No amount of analysis assuages the memory of the anger and words that just came out without thought or consideration. I was instantly humiliated by the action.

Developmental psychologists have long been able to trace how we humans can progress to completely inside ourselves to the level of maturity of considering ourselves and others together. However, our news sources would dry up to a trickle of good news without the number of people acting out emotions on public stages.

As a Jesus-follower, I constantly learn how he modeled handling emotions, yet honoring them. He knew sorrow and anger, and yet channeled them in a beneficial way.

Twice yesterday I was presented with a method for mindfully handling strong emotions that could have the power (if I let them) to take over lives with sometimes devastating results. It’s called RAIN.

R=recognize (the first step of every growth pattern is awareness)

A=allow (don’t try to bury it, let it sit, recognized, realize it is a part of me)

I=investigate (what triggered it, why am I reacting)

N=non-identification (“I have this emotion, but I am not this emotion”)

[I should have mentioned yesterday, as well, that sometimes we can’t handle these things ourselves. When that happens, we need to recognize the situation and seek help from a professional.]

The Heart Is Deceitful

November 10, 2020

Yesterday I looked at advice for you to set your heart in the right direction.

But we must beware and be aware–as the ancient Hebrew prophet Jeremiah noted, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.”

Prophecy in the scriptures does not equal telling the future. It does equal bringing a message from God that speaks to the times–and sometimes to all times. Perhaps here we first meet God the Cardiologist. Jeremiah quotes The Lord, “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”

Sometimes we may look at ourselves and think how beautiful we look when indeed it is vanity talking.

Sometimes we consider ourselves and judge ourself as a “good Christian” when indeed God (and other people) look at our conduct and deeds and judge us as wanting.

We can overcome that deceitful heart. But only by working on the machine that is us and becoming brutally self-aware.

We realize at some point in our lives, hopefully sooner than later, that no matter what that inner voice tells us that when we mentally and spiritually take a step back and look at ourselves as God and others truly see us that we are lacking. We fall short of how smart we think we are, or how wise we think we are, or how much a servant we think we are.

It’s not pure theory or pure knowledge that God is searching us for. How did we treat the server at the restaurant or barista at the coffee shop? How did we treat the least of the people we met?

Will God search us and find us not worthy?

Beware Smoldering Resentment

March 3, 2020

I confess, I have an addiction—to British murder mysteries on TV. I am grateful for Amazon Prime and BritBox đŸ˜‰

A well written murder mystery probes into some of the darkness of emotions. In an old episode of Midsomer Murders, the writers probed the shouldering (guess I should use British spelling) resentment that two women had for their mothers. Both of the mothers had a deviant sexual side that affected the daughters for different reasons—but with the same effect, namely murder.

As we meditate and work on our own self-awareness, these smoldering emotions perhaps lying below consciousness but very real nonetheless can erupt much like a volcano with smoldering lava deep inside. These forces that can, with a subtle shift of rock and pressure, spew out destruction.

Often people outside us can detect deep-seated resentment in us. There is a stare of intensity, quickness to anger, inability to relate to others.

Check on your own state. Quench the smoldering embers within. Work on gratitude, forgiveness (for yourself as well as others), accepting grace.

The Heart App

January 28, 2019

It’s not an obsession. No, really, it isn’t. But I do check my Health app several times a day to see how many miles/steps/flights I have moved.

The icon for the app on my iPhone is a white background with a red heart.

So, I was wondering. Wouldn’t it be great to have a heart app for my spiritual heart?

After all, Jesus was most interested in the state of the heart of people he encountered.

Maybe you’d get a haptic jolt if your heart was tending toward anger, hate, jealousy, bitterness, and the like.

Maybe you’d get a gentle approving buzz if your heart was empathetic, joyful, loving.

Instead of “FitBit” it could be “SoulBit”?

Instead of telling me to get up and walk (which is a good thing), it would tell me to think of someone and offer a prayer wishing them well. Or to take a deep breath, calm down, leave the hurtful emotions behind.

Maybe it’s time for me to learn Swift and rekindle my programming skills?

Or just learn Jesus words and rekindle my “heart” skills?

How about you?

Remembrance of Wrongs

June 22, 2018

Do you carry grudges? Do you dwell on past hurts? The times someone metaphorically stabbed you in the back? When someone promised and didn’t fulfill or broke a contract?

We’ve heard forgive and forget. But can we really forget? More importantly, do we continually think of them?

John Climacus says, “Remembrance of wrongs comes as the final point of anger. It is a keeper of sins. It hates a just way of life. It is the ruin of virtues, the poison of the soul, a worm in the mind.”

Whom do you know with a ruined life because of the poison in the mind that just cannot get over the wrong done? I hope that isn’t you–or your spouse.

John also says, “The man who has put a stop to anger has also wiped out remembrance of wrongs, since offspring can come only from a living parent.”

Think on that sentence. There is deep meaning.

Such is the ninth step. Let him who has taken it have the courage henceforth to ask Jesus the Savior to free him from his sins.

Freedom From Anger Is A Step Toward Divine Ascent

June 21, 2018

Anger reveals itself everywhere these days. I just listened to a teaching on Zephaniah. She talked about handling the truth. Like the line from A Few Good Men when Jack Nicholson asks “What do you want” and Cruise replies “I want the truth” and Nicholson rebuts “You can’t handle the truth”.

If the prophets in Zephaniah’s time told the king the truth, the king killed them. Zephaniah was lucky. He only got life in prison.

Someone makes an assertion that is blatantly a lie, or maybe to be kind, a mistake. Someone else points out the facts. Wow! Just wait for the bombs to quit going off.

I have a policy on social media. If someone reposts those angry and usually inaccurate memes, I mute them. My emotional health is soooo much better.

But let’s look at ourselves. Do you remember the last time you were angry? Really angry?

I can. And I’m ashamed of the moment some 10 years or so later. Anger springs from many things. Often a sense of inadequacy.

John Climacus has an observation, of course. The first toward freedom from anger is to keep the lips silent when the heart if stirred; the next, to keep thoughts silent when the soul is upset; the last, to be totally calm when unclean winds are blowing. Anger is an indication of concealed hatred, of grievance nursed. Anger is the wish to harm someone who has provoked you.

As we climb the ladder of Divine Ascent, “On the eighth step the crown is freedom from anger. He who wears it by nature may never come to wear another. But he who has searched for it and won it has conquered all eight together.”

Pride Creeps In and a Fall Ensues

May 16, 2018

I’ve been contemplating the sin of pride lately. Pride is an insidious thing that creeps into us posing as a friend only to take over our lives driving us from God.

You can pick up a book of psychology or get The Ladder of Divine Ascent by my old friend the 6th/7th Century monk John Climacus, also known as St. John of the Ladder.

Pride is a denial of God, an invention of the devil, contempt for men. It is the mother of condemnation, the offspring of praise, a sign of barrenness. It is a flight from God’s help, the harbinger of madness, the author of downfall. It is the cause of diabolical possession, the source of anger, the gateway of hypocrisy. It is the fortress of demons, the custodian of sins, the source of hardheartedness. It is the denial of compassion, a bitter pharisee, a cruel judge. It is the foe of God, It is the root of blasphemy.

I think John didn’t like pride. Note some of the symptoms we can see such as anger, hypocrisy, lack of compassion.

Many men have crossed my path who were captured by this passion. Proclaiming to be evangelical Christian (and they may well be, not for me to judge), they were captured by this enemy, pride.

An old man, very experienced in these matters, once spiritually admonished a proud brother who said in his blindness: “Forgive me, father, but I am not proud.” “My son,” said the wise old man, “what better proof of your pride could you have given than to claim that you were not proud?”

A person must usually experience a fall, an event that brings many things to light, in order to realize the extent to which pride has entered into life. John says recovery is hard.

A help to the proud is submissiveness, a tougher and humbler mode of life, and the reading of the supernatural feats of the Fathers. Even then there will perhaps be little hope of salvation for those who suffer from this disease.

If we find ourselves needing to be in charge, in control, often angry, judgmental toward others, it is time to go to prayer and seek God’s help to end these passions before they grab us too deeply. Or find a good friend or advisor. Ask if you are showing signs of pride. Seek help.

Aware of Ourselves

May 4, 2018

The most common angelic greeting in the Bible? When a human meets the divine, what does the divine say?

“Don’t be afraid.”

Fear sometimes is right there with us. The first emotion upon meeting a stranger in the night in an unfamiliar place. We face an imminent weather event–tornado or hurricane, for example.

Sometimes fear is insidious. It enters quietly, like a thief in the night. We don’t know it’s there.

But fear influences our thoughts. We fear change. We fear the unknown. Worse, we project our fears on other humans who become the personification of those fears.

Fear breeds hate. We grow to hate those other humans–those other children of God.

We don’t even realize it. These evil emotions don’t just greet us like the angels in the Bible do. “Don’t be afraid.” They sneak in and capture the heart and mind.

Awareness brings things to light. So much of the theme of the Apostle John’s writing concerned bringing light into the darkness.

Sometimes in meditation and prayer, we must listen to God expose these thieves who have crept into our life and captured it.

Fear and pride–two things that will corrupt your life. Bring the light of the world to shine in those dark and web-infested corners, expose them, and expel them.

The light is called awareness. Pray often that God will expand awareness within us.