I’m 67 years old, and I have a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. I have designed many electronic circuits, and written the software to make them function. In my career, I helped design CT scanners, I designed a custom integrated circuit, and I have two patents. I am currently assisting a company to develop a safe, green method to produce Hydrogen for energy production.
So why do I feel I’m just starting Kindergarten? As we have been investigating emotions, I was ready to write on emotion and reason. No one should argue that to live a balanced life, we need to consider both emotion and reason to make decisions.
But looking back on the recent poor decision-making that resulted in me being scammed, I realize I am NOT using reason adequately. And why is that? It is because my reasoning is not sufficient. I am doing the reasoning. I am deciding whether my emotion or reason takes precedence. My reasoning is faulty and my emotion is strong.
So where do I turn? How can I avoid more scams and poor decisions based on my insufficient reasoning power? “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD…” (Isa 1:18) I confess, I am using this verse out of context. Isaiah is speaking about obedience to God. But, maybe this applies.
There are two main topics in the Bible about life: eternal life with God (AKA salvation), and fruitful life on earth. We are told to trust Jesus for our eternal life, and we are told that a fruitful life also comes from Jesus.
When Jesus used the imagery of a shepherd and his sheep in John 10, he contrasts Himself with the thief who wants to steal the sheep. In verse 10 Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
When the Bible says we obtain life through Jesus, it is clearly saying our eternal life starts when we believe Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life”. But for some of us, a life of peace, harmony, and abundance does not seem to begin with our salvation. So, what are we supposed to do?
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Pro 3:5-6) This proverb contrasts our own understanding (emotion and reason) with God’s understanding (transcendent wisdom). Isaiah spoke of obedience. Acknowledging God’s ways as best for our life is an act of obedience. So how do we obey Jesus when we are struggling with emotion and reason?
You have heard it said, “Knowledge is knowing what to say. Wisdom is knowing when to say it.” [Link] Fundamentally, knowledge is knowing facts that come from our education, emotion, and reason. An emotion such as anger teaches us that an injustice we observe is wrong.
But anger can also result from coveting the bigger truck your friend just bought. Reason tells you that if you buy a bigger truck your budget will suffer. But we all know how strong emotion can be by the number of big, new trucks on the road.
“Wisdom involves a healthy dose of perspective and the ability to make sound judgments about a subject based on experience, evaluation, and lessons learned.” [Link] But the God that created us has the upper hand on experience, evaluation, and lessons learned.
So maybe I’m not in Kindergarten anymore but I’m a teenage boy whose pre-frontal cortex hasn’t fully developed. Until the age of 25 or 30, when the frontal lobe is fully developed, we guys may still be ruled by the amygdala, which controls emotion, impulsivity, and an inability to fully comprehend the consequences of our actions. [Link] (Women have a five-year advantage over us.)
In the way parents want to share their acquired wisdom with their teens, God asks us to trust His wisdom. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5)
So, as a spiritual teenager, I need to consistently go to Jesus and ask for wisdom. I can go to Him and say, “I am feeling ______ and I think I want to do ______, but You know what’s best. I am asking for Your wisdom before I make this decision.”
I sympathize with all who find this difficult. Even when we know our fallibility, it is a struggle to connect with God. Fortunately, He understands. He is ready to forgive our failures because His mercy is unmatched. Commit with me to keep trying, again, and again, and again. God is eagerly waiting to help.