“I don’t feel like obeying today.”
The weird thing is, I think my G-rated language is making me a less angry person. Because here’s the way it works: I’ll get to the subway platform just as the downtown train is pulling away, and I’ll start to say the F-word. I’ll remember to censor myself. So I’ll turn it into “fudge” at the last second. When I hear myself say “fudge” out loud, it sounds so folksy, so Jimmy Stewart-ish and amusingly dorky, that I can’t help but smile. My anger recedes. Once again, behavior shapes emotions.
Historically, the handshake was seen as a democratic gesture…But nowadays, I think the bow has more benefits. Though it may seem pretentious, it’s actually deeply humbling. Just lowering yourself before someone – the universal symbol of modesty – makes you feel more respectful. Behavior shapes your thoughts.
Is it odd that I’m finding wisdom in a comedian?
Yet God did create us with physical bodies, and our physical condition, whether health or posture, does seem to affect our emotions.
If a comedian isn’t authoritative enough, how about Aristotle?
Aristotle also believed that your actions shape your heart:
Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting a particular way…you become just by performing just actions, temperate by performing temperate actions, brave by performing brave actions.
He also said:
We are what we repeatedly do.
So perhaps, after all, it is not hypocritical to do right things when our hearts are rebelling.
Perhaps, instead, this is how we train our hearts to desire right things.
Perhaps, too, paying attention to our physical bodies, such as our posture while praying, can help us to keep our hearts focused.
And since finding wisdom in a comedian and in an ancient philosopher should never be enough for us, God also gives us instructions for our physical bodies in order to help our hearts become truly His:
These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. ~ Deuteronomy 6.6-9
Which commandments had God just given them?
Ah. The most important of all.
Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. ~ Deuteronomy 6.5