You may have heard of a Rule of Life, but have you ever considered creating an Emotional Rule of Life? Your typical Rule of Life represents spiritual growth commitments that you make after a season of prayer and consultation with your trusted accountability partners. An emotional rule of life is an adaptation that focuses on an intentional commitment to develop healthier, more Christ-like emotional habits so that you can be more present to God, others, and of course, yourself.
If you take up this challenge for emotional growth, be sure to set rules that take into account where you are presently so you are not discouraged by the usual “one step forward and two steps back” process of meaningful change.
Consider inviting others to be your Emotional Rule of Life covenant partners. Below you’ll find five areas for your consideration in creating an Emotional Rule of Life:
- Cultivate a habit of daily gratitude. It is so easy to forget to be grateful. Make it an early entry into your Emotional Rule of Life. Scripture is full of verses that exhort (and command) us to “give thanks to God.” But don’t stop there! Try keeping a daily gratitude journal and at the end of each day make a list of specific things that you saw, felt, or experienced for which you can be grateful. What can you be thankful for right now?
- Cultivate a habit of forgiveness. Forgiveness is a characteristic of God, which should be reflected in the relationships of God’s people – but too often it isn’t. Forgiving another doesn’t mean that you become a doormat for another’s bad behavior. Forgiveness of specific offenses takes spiritual fortitude, especially when you have been wounded deeply by someone you trusted. Nevertheless, forgiveness is an emotional state and a spiritual trait that you can develop with daily practice. Colossians 3:5-17 contrasts characteristics of an unforgiving heart with those of a forgiving heart. Do you have a forgiving heart? Is there someone God is asking you to forgive?