“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8
Running has become quite popular these days. I guess people are realizing more and more how important exercise is to maintain good health. Running is not my favorite way to work out, but I am beginning to see that it is a great form of exercise. Recently, my husband, two of his brothers, my two brothers, my sister-in-law and my father-in-law all ran in a race in Arkansas. To humor myself and to let my son participate, my sister-in-law and I did the one mile fun run, as I pushed one of our sons in our jogging stroller.
As I watched some serious runners cross the finish line after running a half-marathon, I was impressed. I mean, that takes a lot of self-discipline and training. Many of the things that we do in life require discipline and devotion. While it is not a bad thing to spend our time on these things, I wonder how much time we spend disciplining ourselves when it comes to managing our emotions?
In evaluating my own life, I am a little embarrassed at how I allow my emotions to instantly shape my attitude in a situation. For example, if I spill a drink on the floor, what's the first thing that comes out of my mouth? Of course, I'm not going to be "happy" about the situation, but does it give me an excuse to be filled with anger and to say words that are not glorifying to God? I don't think it does. But, when these moments do arise, it can also give us a clear indication that our emotions are ruling our responses and it's time to reign them in. In Matthew 12:34 it says: "For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart." If my first response is anger-filled words, then my mouth is just speaking the words with which my heart is already filled.
Just today I was overcome with this realization when I burnt my finger on our toaster oven. Just because an unfavorable event happened (my finger was burned!) does not give me an excuse to yell and say something hateful to my husband (not that that happened or anything)!
Instead of viewing my emotions as something I can't control, I want to spend more time disciplining myself in this area. Just as an athlete devotes much of his time to training for a race, I want train my body to choose Christ instead of choosing whatever emotion pops up each day. At the same time, I will be setting an important example for my children to follow: "If we are unable to control our own tempers, how can we teach our children to control theirs? We feel guilty for even trying. Be assured that all our good childrearing efforts will be tragically undermined if we are unkind, unfair, and angry in the way we treat our children. On the other hand, if we learn to control our own emotions, we will be far better equipped to teach our children how to control theirs" (Elizabeth Krueger).
How can we manage our emotions?
- View our ungodly emotions (ex. anger, jealousy, hatred, worry) as serious sins and be on guard at their earliest signs of emergence.
- Replace these emotions with the right ones (joy, love, forgiveness, peace).
- Ask for forgiveness and start over .
- See this battle as a daily discipline, such as running. Pray each day for the Holy Spirit to guide you and show you where you need to change.
"Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified." 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
"Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit's leading in every part of our lives." Galatians 5:24-25