It’s remarkable how differently people respond to the same set of circumstances. Reactions involve your inner life. The management of your inner life is, to me, an issue of vital importance.
Every day you will either reveal or conceal feelings, emotions, attitudes, intentions and thoughts stimulated by people and events. Either way, whether you reveal or conceal them, there they are, coming from within you.
You can’t control what other people do around you. Neither can you control all the events of the day. How you respond will either build up or chip away at your self-respect and self-love, depending on how you manage what goes on underneath your skin.
When psychologists write about the inner life, they refer to pleasant and unpleasant feelings, or positive and negative emotions. There are two kinds of pleasant feelings and emotions.
First, when there is a highly pleasurable and satisfying response to people or circumstances, we describe ourselves as excited, elated, thrilled, ecstatic, or exhilarated.
Second, a person can be described as living heartily, joyously, or happily when the inner life is described as calm, still, and quiet. Muscles are relaxed, heartbeat is normal, digestion is normal. There is freedom from anxiety. All these words describe an inner condition that can be summed up in one word: peace.
Feeling good and pleasant today is not a sure test of whether the feelings are built on a firm foundation. One can be filled with elation, pleasure, and joy over successfully cheating, stealing, lying, deceiving, sensuality, breaking the law, going through a divorce, expressing cruelty and selfishness. In the long run, good feelings not based squarely on God’s commandments will turn to ashes.
The person who experiences unpleasant feelings and negative emotions can be described as being filled with anxiety, restlessness, tension , and frustration. He probably has tense muscles, a pounding heart, faulty digestion and nervousness. These words describe an inner condition also, and can be summed up in one word: misery.
We can’t endure misery. Something must be done about it. Peace must be restored.
There is general agreement among physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, and ministers regarding the destructive effect of the so-called unpleasant feelings and negative emotions that result from the absence of peace. The emotions that cause anxiety, tension, and frustration are:
- love need
Take a look at some Bible verses that describe the same responses as violations of God’s commandments and therefore, when they exist within, this condition chips away at your self-respect and self-love. Modern-day research has only confirmed what this ancient book has described centuries ago:
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; fret not yourself, it leads only to evil doing (Ps. 37:8-9).
A tranquil heart is life to the body, but passion is rottenness to the bones (Prov. 14:30).
Let up not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another (Gal. 5:26).
For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing (James 3:16).
Even the simple details of life will stimulate such reactions if they are within us. Why must we find a way to eliminate them? Because they are intolerable, too unpleasant to live with, and the bodily changes that go along with them are too painful and uncomfortable to ignore. We are forced to find relief, peace, and quiet.
When speaking to His disciples, Jesus once said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives…” (John 14:27).
Jesus said that in this world we can find peace, but He made it clear that it’s not His peace. In this world we can find release from anxiety in mind and body.
There are many avenues we try to follow in order to experience peace: sports of many types, study courses of every kind, books, music, entertainment, hobbies, work, education, relationships, private therapy and group therapy, prescription and non-prescription drugs, and even church activities. Many individuals seek peace by living it up, asserting their independence, doing their own thing, discovering themselves.
What a fascinating list of ways to deal with today’s anxieties. Yes, it’s a great world, with endless ways to find peace. However, we can use any one of these things to run away from our problems.
King Solomon, who is described in the Bible as the wisest and richest of men, wrote of his efforts to taste of everything life has to offer. He sampled wisdom, mirth and pleasure, wine and folly; he built houses, vineyards, orchards, gardens. He had servants and maidens, silvering gold.
The Book of Ecclesiastes contains twelve chapters describing his quest. He concluded:
“Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wild and there was no profit under the sun” (Eccl. 2:1 1).
Sooner or later, all our efforts to find peace from this world turn to ashes. When we slow down or are trapped by circumstances and people, the anxiety, tension, restlessness, and frustration return.
The activities available to us can help relieve the effects of unpleasant feelings and negative emotions, but can’t remove them.
There is a deeper kind of peace than the kind that simply relieves body and mind. It comes when you yield yourself to God and let His peace invade your soul. Jesus said:
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humblers heart; and you shall find restful your souls (Matt. 11:28-29).
These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full (John 15:11).
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).
The apostle Paul, too, points us to God’s peace:
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 15:13).
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your heads and your minds in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:6-7).
Strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously (Col. 1:11).
This is an excerpt of chapter 7 from Dr. Brandt’s book I Want Happiness Now! currently available as an e-book.