Overheated! That seems to describe the temperature of today’s mental climate. The political atmosphere in so many places worldwide fairly sizzles with inflaming rhetoric, accusations, and polarized stands. At its most extreme, this polarization results in violence. And on a smaller scale even families and friends often find themselves sharply divided.
I’ve been thrown around by my own reactions, and I recently realized that it was important for me to stop flaring up with righteous indignation over whatever the latest headlines were blaring. My reactions were keeping me constantly agitated – and not solving anything. How to stop reacting and temper my thinking was the question.
Throughout my life, it’s become natural for me to turn to prayer to deal with challenges. This was not an easy situation considering how readily the angry feelings seemed to grab hold whenever I read the news. But as I prayed for guidance, I came across a very helpful passage in the writings of Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy. Using Love as a name for God, it reads: “Be temperate in thought, word, and deed. Meekness and temperance are jewels of Love, set in wisdom” (“Retrospection and Introspection,” p. 79).
It felt like a cool balm poured through my feverish thinking. I saw that I could do more than simply will myself to stop reacting. I could let divine Love, God, govern my thoughts and feelings. Since we are God’s creation, the phrase “jewels of Love” helped me realize that temperance, or a mental calmness, isn’t just some state of mind we have to conjure up, but it is a quality that is naturally built into our true nature as the spiritual offspring of divine Love. We are divinely empowered to express it.
This peacefulness may sometimes seem absent as we get pulled and pushed by the currents of thought that seem to boil around us. But as Mrs. Eddy also says, “Know, then, that you possess sovereign power to think and act rightly, and that nothing can dispossess you of this heritage and trespass on Love” (“Pulpit and Press,” p. 3). That nails it! We can do it. Divine Love gives us the ability to do it. As we acknowledge God, good, as our creator, we are able to more consistently experience and express the peace that is inherently ours.
Since praying in this way, I’ve noticed that temperance, peace, and calm have had a clearer, more consistent presence in my thinking. I’ve also come to see that temperance is powerful because it allows divinely inspired solutions to emerge where at first we saw only anger.
We can all participate in healing the overheated mental atmosphere by starting with our own thinking. It takes a little practice, but as we see how prayer has an impact in our own lives and relationships, we gain in our trust that it can have an effect more broadly, too!