Last week I was listening to the radio. The talk show host told a story about a Dutch man who is 69 years old. In spite of his senior status, the man feels much younger and his doctor told him that he has the body of a man 20 years younger than his actual age. Rather than feeling content about this revelation, the man has decided to sue his government to make them allow him to change his birth certificate to reflect the age that he feels rather than reflecting the years that he has spent on this earth. Absolute insanity.
Principle. The world has thrown it overboard. I don’t know when it actually happened, but in the last several decades, there has been an increasing progression towards emphasizing how you feel. Do you feel like a winner? Well, then you must be one even though you lost. Do you feel love for your spouse? Or have life’s troubles made you lose that initial spark? Forget the commitment that you made. Throw the bum out.
My daughter teaches in a school overseas. As a lead teacher for two middle school grades, she is responsible to deal with problems that arise and with parents that may have questions or problem children. She has had kids that fight with others, that cut themselves, that bully, and that want to commit suicide. These children have been thrown under the bus by adults who focus everything on how a person feels. Middle school children are notoriously emotional. They feel really up or really down; they feel a little wild or don’t even know how they feel. They have been given no anchor to their soul, nothing to hold onto in the midst of all this frenzy. So, of course they turn to things like cutting or total despair. Their feelings have nothing to hold them in.
In years gone by, many couples weathered severely trying times as a couple, times that threatened to tear them apart. However, even though their emotions were desperately frayed, they had an anchor. Their commitment was a vow between them. They stood on that principle and eventually the storm passed and love returned stronger than ever. My parents were one such couple. They weathered many such storms, held on for dear life and grew from their experience. Their marriage lasted 75 years, the last of which they spent holding hands at one another’s side.
Sometimes we feel as though our world has gone insane. It has. An emotion that is left to run wild becomes insane. Principle holds us. It keeps our emotions from getting the best of us. When everything tells us to give up, principle is the anchor of our life. We hold on for dear life and the eternal principle of faith gets us to the other side of the tumult.
Godly principle holds in emotions that have gone astray. Godly emotions soften principles that are too hard and fast. Together they bring a person through the choppy seas of this life. When we arrive at the far shore, we are stronger, wiser, and kinder. Our principles have guided our emotions and our emotions have become soft and caring, sweet and wise. I remember the movie, Parenthood, with Steve Martin. At the end, the couple is riding a wild roller coaster. That roller coaster that we call life can bring us safely to the end of its journey, but what if there were nothing to hold it back from flinging us off of its highest peak or one of its most dangerous curves? Principle holds us to the tracks. Sometimes we need the sheer force of gravity or the security of seat belts to hold us while our familiar world is being shaken.
We must teach our children principles. It will give them structure to their lives. They will have the emotions. The principles will show them the way and carry them through the trials that they will undoubtedly face. My age is a fact of life. No feeling that I allow myself to convince my mind that I am twenty years younger than my actual age will change my actual age. No matter how much I want to be a bird and fly away, I am still in a human body for the rest of my natural life. To believe that I am a bird and can fly because I feel like one is just insanity. Believing that lie will not make me a stronger person. It will just cause me to try to fly out of a tree and fall on my face. Emotion without principle is just a wisp in the wind. The slightest puff of wind will blow it away.
Matthew 24:35 (NIV) Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
Isaiah 41:10 (NIV) “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”