Overcoming emotionalism

FOR years I had a terrible battle with emotionalism, although I was largely unaware of it. For example, I would fly off the handle when my hairdo didn't turn out the way I wanted it to; stamp my foot when I had to turn back to the house because I had forgotten something; mentally retaliate at the boss's rebuke when I hadn't completed an assignment on time. The list goes on and on. We all may feel justified at times in reacting angrily. Yet such outbursts limit us at every turn.

``A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.''1 This Scriptural wisdom was helpful in overcoming phases of emotionalism when I finally turned to God in prayer about this problem. I was greatly assisted too by daily study of the Bible Lessons outlined in the Christian Science Quarterly. Each lesson consists of selections from the Holy Bible and correlative passages from the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. The author of the textbook, Mary Baker Eddy,2 says, ``Prayer, watching, and working, combined with self-immolation, are God's gracious means for accomplishing whatever has been successfully done for the Christianization and health of mankind.''3

This daily study provided a spiritual education, a Christianization of my consciousness, which showed me how to identify myself correctly as a child of God, good, as the very expression of His nature. I learned the importance of mental watchfulness in detecting tendencies contrary to the true nature of man, and I learned to recognize these as no part of my true being or anyone's. I took special care to note from every lesson, qualities that identified man as expressive of good, such as gentleness, humility, patience, innocence, joy, and love, and endeavored to live them during the day. Healing didn't come overnight, but there was progress.

One week the Lesson Sermon included Christ Jesus' healing of a boy suffering from epilepsy.4 Jesus wasn't anxious or frustrated. He approached that situation with spiritual conviction. ``And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.'' Jesus, filled with the absolute certainty that God was in control, healed the boy. He said afterward to his disciples, who had been unable to bring about a cure, ``This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.''

Fasting! Abstaining from intake. We should refuse to take into consciousness a false, mortal concept of ourselves as emotional or bad-tempered. That's a lie about God's perfect creation, about man made in God's own image. The spiritual reality of our being is that we belong to God and express the intelligence, love, peace, and strength of the divine nature. So resentment, anger, and so forth are unnatural to us and can be eliminated from our thoughts and lives. Realizing in prayer that man is spiritual and perfect now helps us to identify ourselves and others correctly and to resist the temptation to tag someone as temper-ridden, unpredictable, prone to changes of mood, irritable. A person may seem to be any or all of these things, but we need to discern the truth that heals such traits.

Joy, spiritual calm, moderation, are better indications of our true nature. To some that may sound like a colorless, dull individuality. Far from it! Pure, God-derived qualities can't be dull, because there's infinite variety and beauty in the divine nature.

We need not go through years of agony to overcome emotionalism or scold ourselves for slow progress. Rather we can steadfastly keep on praying and fasting -- insisting on the true value of man and abstaining from believing a lie. The healing Christ-power, working in us, gives us authority over sin. God, in His unfailing love, sends the thoughts that we need.

Man is not truly a mortal, driven by emotions. In reality, each one of us is God's offspring, and through prayer we can come to realize this and to feel gently impelled by the Christ to do what is good and right. Mrs. Eddy states encouragingly: ``The pent-up elements of mortal mind need no terrible detonation to free them. Envy, rivalry, hate need no temporary indulgence that they be destroyed through suffering; they should be stifled from lack of air and freedom.''5

A soft answer comes from prayer and fasting. Mental watchfulness, intuitive listening for God's thoughts, and obedience to them give us true self-knowledge. They reassure us that God's law, the law of Love, permeates all true being and that we're governed by that law.

1Proverbs 15:1. 2The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 3Science and Health, p. 1. 4See Matthew 17:14-21. 5Miscellaneous Writings, p. 356. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Let the peace of God rule in your hearts. Colossians 3:15

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