Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thursday, 3rd Week: Emotional Life May Control Spiritual Life

“Oh, that today you would listen to God’s voice! Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, when your ancestors tested me, and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.” - Psalm 95:7-9

Our emotional lives move up and down constantly. Sometimes we experience great mood swings; from excitement to depression, from joy to sorrow, from inner harmony to inner chaos. A little event, a word from someone, a disappointment in work, many things can trigger such mood swings. Mostly we have little control over these changes. It seems that they happen to us rather than being created by us.

So it is important to know that our emotional life is not the same as our spiritual life. Our spiritual life is the life of the Spirit of God within us. As we feel our emotions shift, we must connect our spirits with the Spirit of God and remind ourselves that what we feel is not who we are. We are and remain, whatever our moods, God's beloved children.

Although it is very hard to control our moods, we can gradually overcome them by a well-disciplined spiritual life. This can prevent us from acting out our moods. We might not "feel" like getting up in the morning because we "feel" that life is not worth living, that nobody loves us, and that our work in meaningless. But if we get up anyhow, to spend some time reading the Gospels, praying the Psalms, and thanking God for a new day, our moods may lose their power over us. These spiritual exercises help us to be attentive to and live out of that depth of who we are, beneath the barrage of emotions seem to presently rule us.

"Holy Spirit, help me to achieve the discipline I need for a devout life in God."

adapted from Henri Nouwen

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