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A gift of a breakdown in emotional regulation

July 6: 3 gifts of enthusiasm

  • #124: my friend Hannah's excitement about some training materials she prepared for an orientation to R2HOP class that we're hoping to offer this fall
  • #125: when my new tax accountant explained how I could determine what I need to pay in federal and state taxes and I couldn't wait to plug the numbers into the excel spreadsheet she sent me
  • #126: hugs and smiles from Noah and Kingston when I arrived to babysit them for the whole weekend
  • #127: Colin and Mandy's delight and anticipation as they left for a weekend without kids

July 7: A gift of challenge, conflict, change

  • #128: Kingston crying for 45 minutes straight and refusing to put himself back to sleep
  • #129: my second gift of challenge was when Noah woke up crying at 3:30 AM when I had only gotten Kingston back down at 1:30
  • #130: my gifts of conflict were separating the boys when they were fighting over the same toy
  • #131: Wow, being a parent is a lot of hard work and a huge change from what my normal life is like as a single woman!
  • #132: And yet, what a gift to be entrusted with two precious children for a whole weekend

July 8: 3 gifts water

  • #133: Drinking cold water in the hot sun
  • #134: A trip to magic waters
  • #135: Bathing 3 children all together

July 9: A gift of rhythm, rhyme, reason

  • #136: my whole body moving in harmony to the beat of my feet as I run
  • #137: my gift of neither rhyme nor reason is when new clients come unexpectedly and familiar clients miss their appointments without canceling
  • #138: how God consistently brings me these real people who are making their way through life as best as they can and how He shows me how to love them, encourage them and help them respond to Him

July 10: 3 gifts in weakness

  • #139: fasting
  • #140: realizing that I don't really know what I'm doing, desperately praying for God to intervene and watching Him do so
  • #141: a breakdown in emotional regulation

I am learning, personally and professionally, that emotional regulation is really an art. I just never know what feelings life is going to provoke in me and how I will choose to respond to them in that moment.

I confess that I had a bit of an emotional explosion this afternoon. I had been feeling frustrated about something for a while. I decided that my frustrated feelings weren't very important and I ignored them each time they appeared in response to this particular event. In fact, they really weren't a big deal. If I would have just owned them and cared for them right when they appeared, then I would have realized that they were easily resolved. I may have even been able to receive some love and support from God, my family or a friend if I would have taken proper care of myself and my feeling by accepting that it was mine, recognizing what it was attaching to and then intentionally choosing how I wanted to express it appropriately.

Instead, I denied it and pushed it out of my attention. I said, "That's not my feeling." I said, "That's stupid that I feel this way about that and there's nothing that I can do to change it anyways. I'm just going to ignore it and hope that this feeling will go away." But, it didn't. My feeling stayed. And every time that I denied it, minimized it and ignored it, it got stronger. The frustrated feelings from each separate event decided to form a group. Today, they were strong enough to break through my self-control. When I felt that mass of frustrated feelings, I chose to spew out ugly, angry words toward someone who I really love. I expressed my feelings and felt great release, but it was costly. My frustrated feelings were replaced with guilt and shame over my behavior. They were replaced with hurt feelings when I saw how my words affected the person who received them.

I found myself driving back to work and thinking, "How can I help people learn to do what I have not been able to master myself? How can I instruct my clients in how to identify and express their feelings appropriately when I struggle to do this?"

I felt Jesus ask, "Why are you punishing yourself for something that I have already paid for? Can you pay the price for this sin? Can you heal yourself?" I quickly realized that I cannot pay the price for my actions today and I don't want to try. I want to receive the finished work of the cross of my behalf and His grace poured out for me. I also realized that I cannot regulate my emotions apart from intimacy with God. I need to lean into Him when the strong feelings come. I cannot identify them apart from His revelation and I need His wisdom to know how to handle them rightly. What love the Father has for me that He even cares about my emotional well-being!

This is the love that God has for you too. His are the big, strong arms that hold us together all the time because we cannot do it ourselves.

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