Changing seasons and changing moods go hand in hand. You wake up one morning to an unseasonably warm day, and all is right in the world. You hear the birds chirping, see the blooms emerging on the trees, and bask in the glow of the sun.
The beauty of the world is matched by the spring in your steps and the hope that floods you soul. Life’s not all that bad, right?
Then, the weather changes. It’s dreary and cold outside and you wonder why anyone in their right mind would venture outside. It doesn’t take long for the person who, just the day before, thought they could take on the world, to sleepwalk through the day with a perpetual scowl.
That’s just the way people work. Our emotions follow all sorts of factors—the weather, the success of our favorite sports team, the way our boss looks at us, the quality of the project we’re working on, or the pace of our schedule. These variables—and others—can change the person with the most positive disposition into a downright curmudgeon.
Two Responses To Emotion
There are two typical responses to the fickleness of our emotions. One is to battle to be more stable. Surely, we can mature to the point that the outcome of a sports event doesn’t wreck our lives and the weather isn’t the primary determinate of our mood.
But, even the most mature person you’ve met is still prone to a volatile spirit. Try as we might, we’re all prone to battle changing moods. This wouldn’t be so bad, but for the fact that we make decisions based on our emotions every day.
We run hard after a new dream when we’re feeling confident and give up in the face of the first obstacle when we are not. So it’s not just that our emotions are frustrating or make others want to punch us, but they have very real implications for the way we live our lives and invest the days God has given us.
Which leads to the other alternative. If I’m not likely to develop complete control of my emotions, then I have to consistently remind myself that they are an untrustworthy guide for my life.
You simply can’t trust anything that changes so quickly, and so drastically.
Imagine if you had a friend, or a spouse, who was as untrustworthy as your emotions. One day they acted in a certain way and the next they responded in the complete opposite fashion. You’d not remain in that relationship for long. How could you?
You’d certainly not base your decisions on what this person said or did. As soon as you made a decision, they’d change their mind, and you’d be left with the consequences. The best thing you could do would be to step back from the relationship and make decisions based on what was true, rather than on what your fickle friend or spouse thought at any given moment.
Skeptical Of Our Emotions
The same process should be at work in our lives. Maturity may not mean mastery over our emotions so much as skepticism of their trustworthiness.
As a college professor, I’m often struck when I read students’ essays regarding various ethical decisions in our culture. The vast majority of their arguments, when boiled down to their bare minimum, argue that people should do whatever they feel like doing, whatever makes them happy, or whatever is in line with their sense of well-being.
Perhaps God has given us fickle emotions to prove the foolishness of such a basis for decision-making. Why would we determine the most critical aspects of our lives based on something that changes with the weather? Why would we make decisions based on emotions that have proven time and again to be untrustworthy?
Christian maturity is seen in the ability to step outside of your emotions and evaluate life’s decisions based on something objective—something that does not change. This is what makes God’s character, and His revealed Word, such a treasure.
We don’t have to worry about God waking up on the wrong side of the bed. He’s never so fickle as to change His feelings toward His children based on anything other than what He’s already declared to be true of them by virtue of Jesus’ work. He’s given an authoritative guide in His Word that is a reliable guide for how life should be lived.
This necessitates that followers of Jesus have the wisdom and maturity to hold their emotions up to deep scrutiny. We should daily bring our feelings under submission to God’s eternal Word.
Those who understand the fickle nature of their emotions should find themselves making decisions based on a far more reliable guide than merely what they feel like doing.
In fact, maturity is often seen in doing what is right even though it’s not what you or I feel like doing at any point in time. As the seasons change, and so do my moods, I need to remember time and again that I can’t trust myself. And neither can you.