Expressing our feelings can be a challenge. We try, but often words fail to convey the depth of the heart.
Think about it. How do you adequately express the joy of fulfillment or weight of disappointment; the happiness of love or sorrow of separation; the peace of contentment or frustration of injustice?
There is a range of feelings we experience in our day to day lives and we long to communicate them in ways that allow us to connect with others. Perhaps that was a force behind the creation of the emoji used in social media. Those little icons of feelings are designed to punctuate what we just can’t quite put into words.
Emotion is a good gift when it’s managed well. Without it, we could not experience love or act with compassion. We would lack the ability to express gratitude, identify evil or know the meaning of empathy. In fact, we would be hindered in glimpsing the depth of God’s matchless character without the ability to receive Him with both heart and mind.
But there is a flip side. Untamed emotion can distort our perspective, weaken our attitudes and add needless heartache to life’s already heavy load. We see evidence of it in the news, in social media, entertainment, the marketplace and political arena. It’s not pretty and, if we’re honest, we would have to admit that we all have the capacity to let emotion run wild. It’s in our fallen nature to react or respond to a matter without taking time to learn the whole truth of it. Proverbs 18:13 describes it well. “He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.” We call it jumping to conclusions and the landing is always painful.
Emotion was not designed to rule us. We were designed to rule it through the power of God’s Spirit. He has endowed us with reason and intellect to compliment the blessing of emotion and in that three-fold boundary we find balance in life. When we choose to know truth before speaking or taking action, we are better for it. That discipline helps us conduct ourselves as rational human beings rather than emotionally charged time bombs. It is self-restraint and prevents us from foolish and destructive behavior.
In the time it takes to choose an emoji, we can look to God to guide our response in the moment. That little discipline can become the gateway to developing a humble and deliberate choice to filter our actions through the truth of God’s Word. How much better equipped we would be to handle the trials of life; it’s joys and sorrows, it’s struggles and triumphs, when our goal is a right response. As the world spins further and further out of control, we are increasingly in need of sustaining truth. That is only possible when we seek the Truth-Giver.
Scripture tells us we are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus. That’s quite a statement and it encompasses the ability to control emotion with wisdom. The One who left the throne of heaven to rescue mankind; who faced the cross to bear our sins and walked out of the tomb to defeat death has promised that His Spirit will reside in those who place their trust in Him. Therein is the power of reason, restraint and response.
The great emotion of Gethsemane was countered with Divine reason and intellect. Jesus knew the purpose and saw the victory beyond the cross. Arising victorious, He then commissioned twelve men to carry the power of His Gospel to the world; a world filled with oppression, ridicule, injustice and treachery. Their emotions were as human as yours and mine, but their desire to do the will of God was irrepressible. Steadfast to their call, they entrusted themselves to the One who endowed them with power and love and sound thinking.
God has not changed course. We have. Maybe it’s time to choose Him once again and let His love reflect our emotion, His reason break through our chaos and His infinite wisdom restore our thinking. Practiced enough, it just might inspire an artist to sketch a new emoji … peace.