• Susan Lawson

Controlled Burn




Feelings. They serve a purpose, but if we don’t understand the purpose or know how to use them for the gift they are, we will rarely benefit from them.


I went for my walk yesterday by myself. It was necessary. I was in a bad mood. The local parks department had done a controlled burn at some point the past few days since the last time I was there. It got me to thinking about the benefits of doing something that would seem only destructive to those who don’t understand the value of it.


Controlled burns, when used properly, are a tremendous benefit to the habitat. They get rid of unwanted weeds that choke out the much wanted and needed beneficial plants. It gets rid of trees that have taken root in the wrong places and would grow deep and large to the detriment of that area. It eliminates invasive species, and returns the nutrients that have been tied up in the growth of unwanted plants and returns it to the ground so that beneficial plants can thrive.


When I walk, I am doing a type of controlled burn - to get rid of the mental and emotional weeds that are choking out the good things, the resentments that are taking root and threatening my mental health. It helps me reclaim the energy - mental, emotional, spiritual and physical energy - that is consumed by the struggle of not dealing with hard things. Wouldn't we all do well to have a regular controlled burn so-to-speak, learning to manage our emotions in a healthy way?


Facing our powerful emotions head on might feel terrifying and destructive at first - somewhat like walking into the flames of a fire. But understanding how to become aware of our emotions by facing and naming them, accepting them for what they are and being able to discern what is beneficial and what is not, and doing the hard work of taking any action, if necessary, as a result of that awareness and acceptance is like a controlled burn that clears the way so that we have a better view of what is taking root and growing. That enables us to encourage the good things to grow and thrive while preventing the weeds of resentment and bitterness from taking root.


Wisdom instructs us -


"Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life". (Proverbs 4:23).

The heart represents the center of emotions, thinking and reasoning.


To guard our emotions is to guard our hearts.





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