In my UNV180 classes, we've been talking about emotional intelligence. One part of this is recognizing the emotions impact our motivations very strongly. For example, anger makes us want to fight for or against something or someone. If we're experiencing fear, we want to avoid. Happiness enables us to explore, and sadness moves us to give up.
For the most part, American's (and this is a vast generalization) seem to be afraid of negative emotions. So they don't do well managing them. Instead we act like they don't exist, or we're so blatantly honest about them that we become abrasive. When we're experiencing negative emotions, those in relationship with us are either confused or cringing.
But negative emotions are an adaptive function that are a gift that God has given us, and a resource that Christ used in his relationship with God, with others, and in his ministry. He was sad, angry, fearful, and disgusted at times and yet did not sin. And guess what? His strategy for not sinning was not denying his emotions, He accomplished the task set before him by using and managing his emotions appropriately. I'm so glad that Jesus' life is written out for us to see! It gives me great encouragement and hope.
Lately, I've been dealing with a lot of mixed emotions concerning my capacity for growth in different areas and my ability to influence. Substantially investing the love of Christ in people's lives is my passion, by bringing healing, freedom, and the idea of potentiality to their hearts. I've found myself a bit stagnant, just trying to maintain rather than progressing, being more reactive than proactive, operating more out of an external locus of control than an internal one, comparing myself to other people and their circumstances rather than rejoicing in my own. This makes me sad, and honestly, just motivates me to give up.
However, I have had a few insightful and inspiring conversations in the past few weeks that have made me both happy and angry (an odd mix, I know), but it moves me to explore options and fight for those things that are important to me.
First, Dr. Jim Laub in his talk about leadership on Thursday night said that Servant Leadership is something that he believes in very strongly but he probably isn't very good at, or he has trouble practicing. I look at this man and think, "You've got to be kidding! You're one of the best examples of servant leadership I know, and you write and speak on it all the time." His transparency and humility spurred on my thinking though, and actually helped me immensely. There are so many things that I believe in very strongly, but struggle to practice with excellence. Does this mean that I stop trying to practice them? Does this mean that I stop believing in their effectiveness? No.
Second, I talked with Bill about the difference between "inspired annoyance" (a concept we talk about in leadership) and discontentment. He said that the difference is not necessarily the feeling that you get, but what you do with it. When experiencing inspired annoyance, you are motivated to act, to change, to make things better because they're not right yet. When experiencing discontentment, you typically sit back feel sorry for yourself and gripe. So...I'm in a constant state of reaction and maintenance, does this mean that I stop trying to change? Because I'm tired, it's easier to sit back and gripe, but is that really what I believe in? No.
Third, my husband is one of the wisest men I know. He can teach profound truths through simple illustrations that make sense to your mind and heart. We were talking and I was expressing some of my feelings about work and life. Then he started talking about growing up. At first I thought, "Were you even listening to me?" But this is what he said. There are some sad things about growing up...like the first time your birthday isn't a big deal anymore (experienced that, it's kind of sad), or when you realize the things that people used to praise you for are no longer a big deal (like when a little kid starts singing for the first time we get super excited and love all over them, but if they start singing in the middle of the movie theater or at a program we tell them to be quiet), or the first time you realize no one is going to give you a gold star or pat you on the back for doing your job. POW! Was I really being that ridiculous?! I was. I was working hard, doing my job, and expecting a gold star. It didn't come, and I was discouraged and sad. Seriously now?! Yes.
Work diligently as unto the Lord....Think on those things that are excellent and praiseworthy...Do not think more highly of yourself than you ought, but think of yourself with sober judgment...Exercise your gifts according to the grace given to you...Treat your body as a temple of the Holy Spirit...Bear the fruit of the spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control...Love...Do not let yourself be burdened by a yoke of slavery, because Christ came to set you free.
Why? Because it's easy? Because I know it will be effective? Because it's in my nature? No.
I choose to be Superman, rather than Peter Pan (if you haven't heard that song yet...you need to...it's right here...my brillant rockin sister wrote it).
Why? Because I'm a grown up who believes that it's true!