Archive for the ‘emotions’ Category

We See Your Heart Reflected In Your Face

July 14, 2017

He experienced a late-in-life conversion. Or maybe it was an epiphany. It was something. 

He quit his job. Started a ministry. Was religious.

Funny thing. He never smiled. His face was in a perpetual mild scowl. There was neither joy nor peace reflected in his face.

Rather than attract people, his countenance rather pushed people away.

Do you ever observe people and try to tell from their appearance/posture/face what their personality is like? You look and think, Whoa, I wouldn’t want to be married to that person!

Or like a salesman only out for the next sale who smiles with only his lips? Those are dangerous people.

Or there is the super attractive person. Well, attractive until they open their mouth.

How great it is to meet someone who smiles. Who greets you warmly. Who, even when they are concentrating on something else and you see them, still have an appearance of restful contentment.

There are people who think Jesus was political. Or to be a Jesus follower we must be political. And pursue politics of divisiveness. 

But Jesus turned all that stuff on its head. He criticized those for their outward displays of being religious–who smiled with their lips and not their eyes. He said it’s all about the state of the heart. And Paul later listed the fruit you’ll show and feel when you are in the spirit. Peace and joy–these should be reflected in a follower’s appearance. Not hardness, divisiveness, scowling, frowning.

Makes me afraid to look in a mirror.

Defining Your Emotions The First Step In Dealing With Them

July 11, 2017

My granddaughter noticed something about me. I forget just what at the moment. But she asked if I were disappointed about it. I said, no that doesn’t describe the emotion. She proceeded to ask about six other emotions that were similar yet different.

For an eight-year-old, that is a good vocabulary of emotions. One of many indicators of Emotional Intelligence is the ability to define an emotion with greater depth than just “bad” or “good”.

Defining terms for problem solving has played a large part in my career. I’m in a meeting (or worse these days is getting caught in an interminable email chain) and find people talking around a problem. I’d attempt to shift the focus first to defining the terms. “What do you mean by that?” I ask. 

I might be interviewing someone. I move among many different technologies with many different buzzwords. Sometimes I just have to call a time out and ask, “We’d better make sure I understand how you’re using that word. Just what do you mean when you say that?”

It helps when we are emotionally out of balance. I love how the ancients treated emotions like a family tree. Something like insecurity is the mother of anger, for example.

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to identify just what it is that causes the emotional pain or reaction.

Maturity is the ability to take the next step and not only define your own emotion but also to deal with it. Reading the news, Facebook feeds, watching people in public places, I’d say that most of us could use a good dose of emotional maturity.

The Light of the World

June 8, 2017

John has long been my favorite Gospel. We associate John with spiritual–perhaps the most “spiritual” of the Gospels rather than historical or apologetic–and with love and with vision. His gospel is literary weaving metaphors such as the play of light and dark, playing of the word “I am” which has rich theological tradition.

I talked about his powerful opening and how it plays like the opening of his scripture (Genesis). And how first God had to separate light and dark before he could proceed with the rest of creation. And how Jesus came (returned?) as the embodiment of light.

We can think of light penetrating the darkness. You hear something drop in the night. You grab the flashlight you always keep by your bed. You switch it on. The beam of light penetrates through the darkness exposing what was hidden.

Our conversations reveal our inner thoughts. Thoughts that if exposed to light would shame us. As “good Christians” should we be thinking those thoughts. With the light of Jesus exposing those thoughts, are we humiliated? Or defiant?

I heard a conversation yesterday. It disturbed me. I am too easily disturbed by conversations. But I have to admit that when they described someone, the thought “Darwin Award” did enter my consciousness. And it didn’t just flit in and then drift out. It stayed for a full minute or two. That’s a long time for a thought. Please forgive me for I have sinned.

We cannot stop our thoughts. We can choose what thoughts upon which to dwell. We do become what we think about. If the light of the Spirit penetrates the darkness of our soul, what is exposed?

Is it time to practice a discipline of choosing the thoughts we dwell on with intention? Time to focus on things above (as Paul puts it)?

She Walks in Beauty

May 10, 2017
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
Lord Byron

“Discover what makes you beautiful!” shouts a sign outside a store amongst the clamor of the Las Vegas strip.

The picture shows three overly made up young women with lips so bright red and painted to be so large that they appear to take over the entire face.

Obviously, I’m no judge of beauty by any current fads going around. But trust me, that wasn’t. But I know from reading ancient literature that women have been adorning themselves in order to attract attention or feel more beautiful for thousands of years.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. –Proverbs

Maybe that was what Paul was thinking when he wrote that he preferred that women cover their hair in worship out of respect for God.

Regardless, pictures lie, but we all know a beautiful person when we meet one. The woman Byron described was wearing black in mourning, but her beauty transcended clothes and adornment. Beauty truly does come from within.

How Do You Use Social Media

April 19, 2017

“All it takes is a tweet from one angry mom.” Overheard on a sports talk show.

One of the best services we can perform is to get involved with youth sports. Coach, referee, manager.

Working with kids at all ages can be satisfying if done with the right end in mind. And that end is human development. Kids are taught responsibility, team work, to perform when people are watching. They get to run and jump and learn a skill.

I’ve devoted 30 years to refereeing soccer and teaching and mentoring new referees. I’ve seen kids at 13 grow into 16s who can make decisions, control their emotions (tough at that age), manage people situations. I keep hoping one will eventually be refereeing on TV, but even so, they’ve become better people because of it.

But I’ve seen the worst beginning when I was about 16 and umpiring baseball and softball in my hometown.

And I thought–why would someone want to coach these days. Or even referee. After all, it only takes one tweet from an angry mom. Or one Facebook post from that angry mom. And your reputation goes down the toilet. People pile on whether they know anything or not.

Social psychologists, I suppose, study why people sitting alone somewhere with Internet access just spout off with any emotion that crosses their awareness. Face-to-face is harder. Online is easy.

I remember when TV came along and the pundits were talking about how this new communications medium can lift the collective intelligence and knowledge of the population. And we just keep sinking to new lows with every new way of communicating.

We could do things that are motivating in a positive way. We could build people up. We could be sympathetic to the plight of people.

Or, we can just bask in raw emotion and “let it all hang out.”

The Words of My Mouth And The Meditations of My Heart

February 28, 2017

Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer. –Psalm 19

Saw in a cartoon strip. Two 50-something men sitting in a bar. Old friends. One is a priest. Woman walks up who is an old friend not seen for many years. “Gosh, Nicole, you look, er, wonderful.”

The man turns to his friend, the priest, “Forgive me Father, for I am about to sin.”

“I don’t do funerals,” replied the priest.

My wife is in a small group studying the Sermon on the Mount. They hit the divorce teaching of Jesus. We talk about it. Not to get one, of course, but to consider the current cultural environment.

For example, the Religious Right chose an issue it thought would get the most emotional allegiance from politically conservative Christians. It did not choose divorce. In fact, it doesn’t even have a divorce teaching. One of the founders was quite frank about it–too many people are divorced and accept it as just a part of living. No big deal.

And the legal reason back in Jesus’ day for divorce was–adultery.

Jesus, when asked one of those trick questions, said that Moses put in a law about divorce because humans are sinful. But God didn’t create us to have disposable spouses. Then Jesus talked about the meditations of our heart.

In fact, Jesus said, just to contemplate how “wonderful” another person is in a sexual attitude is the same thing as adultery.

Words can be cruel things that cannot be recalled. The meditations of our heart, though, corrupt our very soul. That’s like yesterday’s teaching. Where we set our mind is the direction we’ll go. We become what we think about. Don’t let your imagination get carried away.

Lonely or Alone – There Is A Big Difference

October 6, 2016

Here I am again in this mean old town
And you’re so far away from me
And where are you when the sun goes down
You’re so far away from me

So far away from me
So far I just can’t see
So far away from me
You’re so far away from me

–Dire Straits

Have you ever felt lonely? Not just a fleeting  sense of being alone, maybe on a trip. But really lonely. The kind you feel in your gut. The kind that just settles into your bones like a cold drizzle in the late fall.

I imagine that it is a rare human who has never felt that. But it could just be me.

David put it in a Psalm (22)–kind of a prayer wrapped in a song. Jesus quoted this song just before he died.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?

O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest.

It doesn’t have to end there. I’ve been reading lately in some books on personal psychology. Studies are showing that you need to somehow, slowly begin to make decisions. Decide to go out, for example. Talk to the local barista. Someone.

David didn’t end with that deep feeling. He remembered what God had set before him. The promises that God would fulfill if David kept his end. He wrote later (23)

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.

We sense the presence of God. We release the feelings of loneliness.

Paradoxically, we sense the presence of God often by being alone. Remember how Jesus often withdrew from the group to go off to a lonely spot to be alone with his Father? When we go off to be alone with the Father in prayer or meditation, it actually works to bring us out of that shell of loneliness. We can also then go out and meet people.

What Is It Like To Live A Life In Anger?

September 29, 2016

“How do people live with themselves being angry all the time?”

Saw this on Facebook. A guy I know. Nice guy. Got mad at the woman making a sandwich for him. Felt bad all day.

Do you know that feeling? I do. I hate myself (well, maybe not that strong, but you get the idea) when I allow a temporary emotion create a rift–even when I don’t know the other person.

Mostly I smile and greet people and try to add a little light into their day. Then there are times.

But my friend asks a very perceptive question.

How do people live with themselves when they are always angry? Or, how to people who live with them or deal with them often live with it?

It must be terrible to never feel good. To never feel the love of God breaking through. Oh, they may talk about God, but can they really feel love through the anger? How sad to waste a life like that.

It’s even worse than the gloomy guy who always has something negative to say. My health is bad and the doctors are stupid. Or, the new boss is as big a jerk as the last one (pattern?).

I try to avoid the downer people. But the angry people, they can ruin a good day. Either they provoke anger in response, or at best create feelings of anxiety, distrust, or distance.

I have no advice. It’s difficult to conjure up sympathy. That deep seated anger comes from some emotion probably brewing for years. Or maybe a recent medical condition.

Best is to avoid them. But if they are family or co-worker, best is to try to step back mentally and gain perspective. “I’m not going to let them ruin my day.”

But it must be tough to live in a state of continual anger. Guts all worked up. Nothing goes right. People avoid you. Sad.