What is a “Bad Mood?”

As we continue to think about Re:Formation, we come to the subject of reforming our feelings. This is a very complex area of life where clarity and light is needed. And philosopher and theologian Dallas Willard, in his book Renovation of the Heart, brings profound clarity and wisdom. This week, I’ll be posting some excerpts from Willard to help get us thinking about what it means to be transformed in the area of feelings.

What we call “moods” are simply feeling qualities that pervade our selves and everything around us. They are, of course, extremely hard to do anything about precisely because one cannot stand outside of them. Clinical depression is an extreme form of a “bad mood,” but dread, deprivation, and deficiency, as well as simple anger, fear, or pain, can become moods of the negative type because of the capacity of feelings to spread and pervade everything they touch.

On the positive side, there are feelings and moods associated with confidence, worthiness of good, being acceptable and “belonging,” purposefulness, love, hope, joy, and peace. Being “accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:6, KJV) is the humanly indispensable foundation for the reconstruction of all these positive feelings, moods, and their underlying conditions. We must be very clear on how the negative feelings rest on ideas and images. Those feelings can themselves be transformed by discipleship to Christ and the power of the gospel and the Spirit, through which the corresponding ideas and images are changed to positive ones. And we must be clear that the person given to moods faces special difficulties, though not insurmountable ones, in spiritual formation.

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