Monday, August 18, 2014

The emotional response...

Week 34:

Matthew 15:17-20 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

I recently attended a workshop session of our annual teacher’s conference for Christian Schools.  This was a fascinating session about emotional intelligence.  I have been on a transformational journey of strengthening my heart and soul over the past few years and God continues to put learning situations in my path along the way.  This presenter consults and trains groups and organizations and his presentation jarred some thoughts for me. (In fact, it was an emotional response)

The more I am on this journey, the more I see that what scientists, psychologists, neuroscientists, etc. “discover” and explain; God may be explaining through Jesus and His teachings.  What?  Jesus spoke of neuro-pathways, etc.?  No.  The use of analytical explanation is actually Western in thought.  But Jesus did however, use stories, parables, analogies, and the like to say the same thing.  These to me are like pieces to a puzzle coming together.

In this session, what particularly stood out for me was the discussion of the emotional center of the brain.  In a nutshell, the emotional part of the brain works 100 times faster than the thinking and reasoning part of the brain.  When that part has been triggered, the “acting without thinking” response usually takes over.  The presenter was able to briefly give some techniques that are helpful when those situations come up in the classroom.  These techniques are also helpful in everyday life and are somewhat touched on by Jesus. 

The emotional responses we have to situations are the “out of the heart” responses.  A portion of the presenter’s techniques were proactive in nature.  If I train myself to be somewhat prepared for the triggers of my response, then I can get back to the thinking part of the brain and avoid some damaging, out of balance emotions.  One of the techniques is to replace the negative emotional responses with positive emotions responses prior to entering situations.  I am to condition myself for the oncoming stresses.  That is one of the things Jesus is talking about when He lists what comes out of the heart in vs. 19.  Paul, in Galatians 5:22-23 lists fruits of the Spirit that can be used to condition the heart.  Paul also mentions in Philippians 4:8 some traits we should think about. 

If and when I focus on these traits and other holy things, I condition my heart for a better response in stressful situations.  This does not mean I will be perfect.  I still have remnant of evil and sin in my heart that I will be working on, through the Spirit, until I die.  This also does not mean that I deny my emotion all together.  My response may be valid, but should not be out of balance with the situation. 

All in all, I love how the Word of God continues to apply to all life situations.  I am thankful for those experts who strive and study and research humanity in order to make us better.  And I am thankful that the two worlds meet periodically for me to see how God is speaking to me.


1.      Describe a time when you had an emotional response that was out of balance.
2.      As you reflect back on that time, how do you feel about it now?
3.      What could you have done different?
4.      Would filling your heart with the positive attributes listed in the Word have helped?
5.      As you reflect, you may feel some shame.  Give yourself grace and know that your heart is still being fed.  Move forward from here and fill your heart with God’s character.

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