Are we ruled by emotions?
A Christian Science perspective: A spiritual response to what brings peace to our day.
This past weekend in the United States, a new Pixar movie came out titled “Inside Out.” This animated feature depicts a little girl controlled by five of her emotions. The plot is described in part on imdb.com as, “Like all of us, Riley is guided by her emotions – Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness. The emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley’s mind, where they help advise her through everyday life.” It made me consider what really governs us day to day.
I recall one recent morning when my husband and I were out walking in our city. We came to a crosswalk and started across, and not until I was in the middle of the street did I realize that an oncoming car was approaching us very quickly. The car slowed marginally, but when my umbrella fell on the ground and I turned back to pick it up, the car drove rapidly through the crosswalk, missing me by inches. The driver then kept driving. I was shaken and upset by the incident, and angry with the driver.
My husband instantly turned my thought away from the picture of a near-accident to say that we were safe. He reminded me that God was governing all, for good, and that included us as well as the driver. I knew he was right, and I was thankful, but I was still very shaken. Ideas rushed into my thinking about how I should have confronted the driver and called the police. I kept mentally rehearsing the picture of “what might have happened.”
Then, thankfully, I remembered a familiar passage that sharply interrupted those clouded, fearful, angry thoughts and made me see that rehearsing the near-accident was only making it worse. The passage was written by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science and the founder of this newspaper: “Envy, rivalry, hate need no temporary indulgence that they be destroyed through suffering; they should be stifled from lack of air and freedom” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896,” p. 356). This spoke perfectly to my mental state in that moment. I realized that instead of indulging or encouraging the feelings of fear, helplessness, victimization, or even self-righteousness, I needed instead to stifle those negative emotions and not allow them to rule my thinking.
I saw so clearly that those emotions weren’t helping me, nor helping the situation – in fact, I felt worse! So, instead I began to affirm what the Bible says we are ruled by. The first chapter of Genesis reads in part, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion...” (1:26). On this basis I understood that God gave me dominion. As His loved child, I even had dominion over these emotions. God made me in His image, which meant that I was good, free, joyful, clear-minded, and had no feelings of anger toward my fellow man. I mentally forgave the driver, and myself, and affirmed a passage from Mrs. Eddy’s primary book, called “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “All of God’s creatures, moving in the harmony of Science, are harmless, useful, indestructible” (p. 514). I knew this to be spiritually true for me, my husband, the driver, and everyone else in my city. I felt so free and unburdened once I began praying about this situation instead of just reacting to it – and I went on to have a peaceful, uplifting, and productive day.
While it may be entertaining to see movies giving character to human emotions, how grateful we can be for what Christian Science brings to light about the most powerful animating influence in our lives: the Christ, the spiritual idea of good speaking to our consciousness. Rather than letting our emotions get the best of us, the Christ shows us our God-given dominion over negative thoughts and reactions and thus cultivates and strengthens a harmonious and peaceful state of mind – which blesses us as well as those around us.