We’ve been talking a lot about feelings in our home lately. As we say good-bye to February it seems the perfect time to have a heart-to-heart about processing our feelings and emotions. February displays a special time of year when the world tells us we’re to be in love and spoil those we love. Although as Christians we should do all things in love, Let all that you do be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:14.
In my home we’re working on speaking with love. Many times when one person doesn’t get their way it results in throwing a tantrum or reacting unlovingly. A therapist comes to our home once a week to work with my three year old daughter. She has given us somewhat of a script to say when our sweet girl is having trouble voicing her emotions. It says-
- When you…. (Be specific)
- I feel… (How you feel inside / not”you make me feel”)
- And I wish you would try…. (How you hope they’ll treat you)
I’d love to say that the rest of us have our emotions in check and speak gently each and every day, but that would be completely false. Not only are we using this method with our three year old to minimize tantrums and to help her voice her emotions, but we’re also using it with our strong-willed six year old son who just doesn’t like the word, “NO.” In fact, it’s even useful with our ten year old who’s rapidly entering his pre-teen world and always has something to say. But it’s not just for the kids. It works for me similarly, when I’m at my wit’s end and am simply exhausted from repeating myself. Don’t get me wrong all three of my children are amazing, and as much as they have their difficulties, they have even more incredible qualities. But let’s be honest, they’re fleshly and want their way – all the time! And if we’re being honest as adults – don’t we?
It’s important that my children learn to go kindly to the person who hurt their feelings and let the person know how and what hurt them. I desire for my children to learn to easily forgive and not hold onto unecessary anger or hurt. And it’s great to see that we are seeing improvements by doing this with our kiddos. But I got to thinking how much easier life would be if we would use this as adults! If we just kindly told the person – our spouse, kids, co-worker, family member, or friend, when a hurt happened. Now I realize sometimes small offenses come and we should immediately let them go. We may realize it was us over reacting. Or we realize they are going through something right now and need extra grace . Nonetheless most times, if you’re like me, we just hold onto the hurt.
We may pray about it and desire to let it go, but there it remains.
Lately, the Lord has been challenging me to face the hurts I hold onto. I need to pinpoint what exactly wounded, upset, angered, or offended me. Write it down and own it! Be honest about the feelings the offense is bringing up in me. And they aren’t usually pretty: anger, jealousy, judgment, un-forgiveness, etc. Then I pray for my own reaction to the offense, as well as the person who offended me. After that I see if it’s truly necessary for me to confront the person or if it something I can work out individually with the Lord. This seems to be where I can get “stuck.” I hang out in the area of holding onto an offense instead of letting it go. “Let it Go”, by the way, is the song I loudly sing to my kiddos when they are letting the little things bug them. And sometimes I should loudly sing it to myself! Please understand I am referring to little offenses that we let turn into BIG things. I’m not referring to deep hurts that require profound healing and often take time to overcome. These little offenses we hold onto affect our moods, our relationships, and keep us down.
Recently I was helping my husband’s parents pack and move. Now when you move there seems to be three piles of stuff. A pile of stuff to KEEP, a pile to GIVE AWAY, and a pile to THROW AWAY. I got to thinking there should be piles for our thoughts: ones to KEEP, GIVE AWAY, and THROW AWAY. We should keep the thoughts that inspire us and give away thoughts that encourage others. And definitely throw away the ones that bring us down. So often we mix-up the thoughts rolling around in our head; holding onto the garbage and giving away our short remarks and unkind words. It’s so important to hold onto God’s Word and His promises. Every day He gives us a fresh start to begin anew with Him. The LORD’S loving kindnesses indeed never cease; For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:23.
I think if I could clean out the thoughts in my head I could live a lot more peacefully and have a lot more joy to give away. I even find myself dwelling on offenses that may or may not have even occurred. Wondering if the comment someone said at work was meant negatively. Focusing on when one of my children said – “You’re the worst mom ever!” I spend time trying to decipher the “tone” my husband was thinking when he text me something I took as unkind during the day. Or replaying a conversation with a friend that day because a comment was made and I think it was hurtful. YES, I’m a DWELLER! And I’m not always dwelling on the things I should be.
Maybe you’ve been struggling not with something that was said, but with something that wasn’t. An invitation you didn’t receive that you thought you would. A new policy at work that you are last to know about (and you’re always the last to know about all sorts of things). Or you’re feeling out of the loop in a conversation with other people at school or at church. You desperately desire to be part of the team, group, or even your family. But it seems like you never completely fit in.
One thing I know for sure is you “fit in” with God. Not only does He love you, but He created you to be uniquely YOU! Also, God actually calls us to be different – “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2.
What negative thoughts are you carrying around? What comments are you dwelling on and trying to decide if they’re meant to hurt you? Even worse, what lies have you began believing about yourself because someone else said something. May we remember to dwell on how lovely and cherished we are in the eyes of our Heavenly Father. Others were given in exchange for you. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you. Isaiah 43:4. Our creator loves us and we are precious to Him!
This should be what matters most to us. But we allow others opinions to take precedence. I was recently listening to a message by Pastor Levi Lusko where he said, “When you know who you are it doesn’t matter who you are not.” Oh how I love this and want to be free in this area of my life. I am praying each of you will be free too! Free to see yourself as God sees you. Free to forgive those who’ve hurt you, left you out, or constantly have a negative comment to share. Free to dwell on how much your Heavenly Father loves you!
Heavenly Father, thank you for each person reading this. Thank you for how you love us, even when we are stuck in our negative thoughts. Lord, cleanse our minds and renew us with confidence only in You. Forgive us for the times we react in our flesh. Forgive us for dwelling on offenses and hurts that are not from you and help us focus on Your great love for us. Help us to remember we are all going through “stuff.” Fill us with your kindness so we may share it with others.