We cannot control our feelings about the person standing on the threshold, but when we open the door, we grant permission to come inside. We do control whether or not to open the door.
We cannot control our emotions. What would that even mean? My fear is not something separate from me, that “I” can master. We affect our emotions the same way we do our muscles, by voluntary exercise. We lift weights and our muscles grow. We climb rocks and gradually our fear of heights diminishes.
This is true of the interior life in general, up to and including love, that mysterious thing. It is through what we do and neglect to do that our love receives its shape and health – for better or worse.
Christianity asks of us only that we do the things we can do. We cannot dictate our own thoughts or emotions. But we can take time to pray and meditate, to read the Bible, to attend church, to assist our neighbor.
Doing these things is, in effect, granting God permission to come inside.