People are always attempting to alter their moods. Pass by the Beer Garden on a sunny afternoon, you will see lots of people in the process of altering their moods through alcohol consumption. Pass by your neighbors’ house and glance at what is on the TV. Perhaps you will see a funny movie that will alter their serious mood through laughter. Look in the coffee shop where throngs of people are altering their sleepy mood with caffeine. It seems like we are all trying to get out of one mood and into another, perhaps more desirable mood.
Often we decide what mood we ought to be in based on the expectations of others. Big presentation at work? We must work ourselves into a more confident mood, leaving behind those pesky nerves that might make us look weak in front of others. Walking into the foyer of church? No one wants to hear about your stressed, anxious, or scared mood, so you try to get in a good mood before arriving, perhaps blasting the latest contemporary Christian hit to drown out how you really feel.
Is there something wrong with desiring to be in a better mood? Not really, but I wonder if we are dealing with ‘bad’ moods in a dishonest way.
Most of us treat our moods like a college football player before a big game. We yell and scream and strut and chant as we overexert ourselves in order to mask any ounce of fear that may be present. You never see footage from a locker room where these big, strong athletes are hugging each other with tears in their eyes as they relate just how scary it is to be playing the biggest game of their lives in front of thousands of fans and millions of television viewers. No, virtually every player feels it is necessary to hide any and all parts of his mood that might appear weak to others.
My mind wanders to a contrasting vision of Christ the night before his crucifixion. Luke 22:42-44 says this about what he prayed on that night: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”
Christ is in a frightened and anxious mood here and he does not deny that he is. The magnitude of the situation was literally unbearable and he did not pump himself up or alter his mood through positive self-talk or strong drink or loud praise songs. He even asks that the fearsome event might not happen, if there might, perhaps, be another way. In all of his brutal honesty he does not come across as heroic, but as simply willing to do the Father’s will. And what happens as he is honest about his actual mood? An angel from heaven appears, strengthening him!
What might we learn from our Savior’s example? Is there something better for us in admitting we are afraid of the big presentation or the big game and, having admitted that, trusting Our Father to strengthen us, rather than spending so much time and effort convincing ourselves we are not scared at all? When the Lord asks us, as he did Adam in Genesis 3:9, “Where are you?” can we answer him honestly, “I’m in a frightened, angry, sad, helpless, nervous, weak, worried, or even happy place?” Can we trust that He will minister to us in His mood-altering power, rather than ministering to ourselves with substances, sitcoms, or self-help?
Is He Lord of your moods? Or are you?
Ben is honored to sit with men and women in the midst of the inevitable and unavoidable struggles of life. He has been trained to walk with people through many types of struggles but finds himself regularly working with couples, men dealing with sexual issues, men and women dealing with interpersonal and relational struggles, and those who deal with anxiety and depression. Ben is married to Amy and has three children. When not in the counseling room, he likes to make time for playing the banjo and guitar. He is also a ski patroller at Beech Mountain, NC.