Even beautiful flowers can have blemishes, and they often grow amongst what we consider “weeds.” Still, flowers in the wild can be a good, visual reminder to the rest of us of how we can be beautiful anywhere. How do we do it?
First, we have to realize that our emotions are not us. We choose the emotions we allow ourselves to feel. Sometimes, that backfires on us, like when we swallow our discomfort with a situation instead of expressing our thoughts (in a gentle way–remember Paul’s admonition to proceed always first in gentleness), leading eventually to so much internalized angst that we become physically ill.
But what if we instead chose each day to feel good feelings? If Christ, God-incarnate, could take the beatings He received from the Roman soldiers without calling out a legion of angels to save Himself, then shouldn’t we, as Christians, work to follow His example by sloughing off the “slings and arrows” of this world and choosing to feel the love and peace that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit offers?
The Christmas season seems like the best time of year to get into the habit of choosing good feelings. When you wake up to start each new day, begin by thanking God that you are here to see it. Smile at your bedraggled self in the mirror. Feel empathy for the frazzled driver in front of you who just cut you off and don’t seethe with an anger that can ruin your day. After all, we all have been guilty of at least one near-miss in a car that could have led to an accident that would have been our fault. If Christ could give His life for us, what are an extra two minutes at a light to us because the driver ahead was driving a bit slow?
Of course, to those for whom the holiday season is generally a sad time, full of bittersweet memories or genuine sorrow, the idea that we are in control of the choices we make concerning our emotions probably sounds trite and maybe even unfeeling. But God understands our hearts. He created them, nurtures them, and heals. Going to God about helping you choose your feelings is the best path anyone could take. If you doubt it, re-read your Psalms. In these prayers and hymns from various writers, we see the true gamut of emotions and ideas between the created and their Creator. The psalmists praise God, can’t live without Him, and downright hate Him.
But they always come back to Him. And He is always ready to receive them. Choose love this Christmas, and make it your New Year’s Resolution to truly choose the feelings each day that will serve God best.
That’s what I plan to do in 2012. I pray you plan to join me.