Redeeming negative emotions

Aggressive negative emotions can prevent us from moving forward in productive ways. Through prayer, we can replace these emotions with God-given qualities such as love and joy, which bring freedom and blessing.

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Strong emotions. They can be lurking just below the surface, or they can be very visible and often aggressive. This might seem normal, considering the many issues the world is facing. And while some strong emotions – such as deep love and genuine care – are positive, it’s the intense negative emotions that can keep us from moving forward. Can such emotions be redeemed?

The movie “The Railway Man” not only stirred my heart but showed me that the mighty wrestling with strong emotions can result in good. In this movie based on a true story, a British former prisoner of war who had been in a World War II Japanese prison camp decides, after thirty years of anguish, to seek out the man who tortured him.

Although there is much more to the story, the two finally embrace in a very poignant scene and then remain friends for years. Both men – one who had been ridden with guilt, the other with bitterness – were able to abandon their strong negative emotions that might otherwise have undone them and gain a blessing. They both were moved to reconciliation by something higher, something more powerful and merciful than what appeared to be going on to the human eye.

Although the word “emotion” is not found in the Bible, there are many accounts that indicate the healing and transforming power of spiritual feelings, such as joy and serenity that come from Soul, another biblically based name for God.

Jesus perfectly manifested the Christ, the divine nature of God, which guided him in everything he did. Through the Christ, Jesus healed a leper living with constant rejection and calmed a storm when his disciples were terrified of dying at sea. Jesus proved the protecting power of the divine nature when he went unseen through an angry crowd who wanted to push him off a cliff. “Moved with compassion,” Jesus healed the multitudes.

Christian Science fully embraces the universal truths of the Bible, including the teachings of Jesus. What Christian Science teaches highlights how the Christ, filled with grace and love, comes to our rescue in the midst of trouble, revealing everyone’s real, spiritual identity. It moves us Spiritward when strong emotions would try to confuse and blind us to spiritual qualities such as purity and peace that God gives to all of us.

In “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, wrote about “Immanuel, or ‘God with us,’ – a divine influence ever present in human consciousness” (p. xi). Mrs. Eddy dedicated her life to helping others see that this “divine influence” is able to lift the thought of everyone to see the powerlessness of enslaving feelings such as rage and fear.

Years ago, after a relationship was severed, I was living day to day with constant resentment, and I wasn’t sure how to break the strong hold it seemed to have on me. Through decades of study and practice of Christian Science, I knew that feelings of limitation in any form are not part of my spiritual identity. When it is understood that the belief of limitation arises from believing the materially based misconception that we are separated from God, good, it can be silenced.

Knowing that resentment was not a natural, God-given feeling, I prayed diligently day after day to heal it.

One day, the assault of resentful feelings stopped, as though a faucet had been turned off. I felt such stillness and quiet. I had been continually affirming, through prayer, my oneness with God as His reflection, and now it was suddenly so clear that aggressive emotions couldn’t come from God. Therefore, they weren’t my thoughts, they couldn’t act on or influence me in any way, and they had nothing to do with the other person, whose real identity was spiritual also. The negative emotions just melted away in the realization of their lifelessness. Later, a genuine affection was reestablished between the other person and me, and it remains to this day.

The J.B. Phillips version of the New Testament puts it beautifully: “The Spirit however, produces in human life fruits such as these: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, fidelity, tolerance and self-control – and no law exists against any of them. Those who belong to Christ have crucified their old nature with all that it loved and lusted for. If our lives are centred in the Spirit, let us be guided by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-25, “The New Testament in Modern English”).

These beautiful, divine qualities only bring about blessedness. Accepting and living their strength and permanency, we will feel them moving and guiding us through every detail of our lives, blessing ourselves and others.

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