BETTER THAN HAPPY – Episode 220

This may sound like a strange topic for SUNDAY SABBATH STUDIES, but I feel like the principle taught in today’s podcast on how to deal with stress in the midst of change, can affect the spirit in our home during this time of change in our home, and the spirit with which I run the household during quarantine and the COVID19 scare.

Decision Fatigue.

Examples that Jody gives of decisions we sometimes feel like we have to make – decisions that may cause some stress in our lives:

  • What to prepare for dinner
  • What we will do for Christmas each year
  • When we will see extended family
  • What will I say when I am offered credit cards from department stores
  • Which days of the week I will wash my hair
  • Organic or not
  • Which church activities will my teenagers be expected to attend
  • What God thinks about me

“Every time we have to make a decision, we can’t delegate that to the lower brain. We have to use the higher brain to make decisions. And the higher brain gets tired. It requires so much more energy.”

And there are times in our lives when we simply have to make more decisions than other times, right? Moving your family to a new home, is an example. Entering a new stage in life – a new baby or our first teenager to start dating. These past couple weeks, it’s been homeschool, for our family. And we have been having to re-make some decisions that were set before – decisions that we didn’t have to think about at all, we are now having to decide almost every day.

  • What time should we have breakfast
  • What time should we have lunch
  • What will our daily schedule look like
  • When will I get my own exercise in or WILL I even get my exercise in
  • What social contact will we allow, what will we not
  • Jono has been sick, so we have had to re-decide how to distribute the children’s chores around the house
  • How will Sundays look different in our house than any other day of the week

“So, one way that you can minimize your decisions where possible is to (1) ease up a little bit on your expectations of yourself. Maybe you’re not going to get to all the things that you used to get to when you could delegate everything to the lower brain… (2) Another way to minimize decision fatigue is to make your decisions in advance. Even when you have a child who is struggling in some way, you can decide in advance how you will handle it when the child struggles… (3) Another thing I like to do is to delegate decisions as much as possible… Now, this does require that you let go of control of things, but if you can manage that side of you, you can save a lot of energy by minimizing your decisions.”

Okay, my friends. Let’s try this! Let’s do this thing!

  1. Where can I ease up on myself? Exercise, definitely. I am still walking with Allyson every morning – that is not a decision I have had to re-make. Can I be okay with that being my only consistent form of exercise, for the time being? No guilt. I walk. And that is the floor I can accomplish every day. Another thing I can let go of is social contact. If the kids want to write letters/text/email their friends, that is up to them. I don’t need to expect myself to organize these things, at this time, during quarantine. I can be grateful for the “social” experiences they are having right here in our home, with their siblings.
  2. How about making decisions in advance? We are two weeks into quarantine and homeschool. I have an idea what works and what doesn’t. What decisions can I make in advance, that we can implement the rest of the school year at home? How about breakfast time. 7am. Done. Just like that. Lunch? Noon. Done. And if the kids aren’t ready to eat at noon, it will be out on the counter and available at noon. And Sundays? I talked to my sister and my sister-in-law, trying to get ideas on how to keep our Sabbath days special, when we aren’t going to church on Sundays. And we can decide in advance, and then we only have to enforce it. I have some ideas, for sure. Also, I loved Jody’s idea about deciding in advance how I will respond to a child who is struggling. I know it will happen – I have seen patterns, with all the children home, all day every day. How will I respond when she melts down. How will I respond when she doesn’t sleep well at night. How will I respond when he gets mad at me and then runs off. How will I respond when he refuses to eat. I can decide in advance, and then I can be sure that my action will be intentional, rather than a knee-jerk reaction, and rather than deciding again, How should I respond?
  3. Delegation. Meals. Math help. Night time routines. Which battles can I delegate to Bryant? What else? I have delegated Wednesday night dinners to a 13-year old girl in the neighborhood who isn’t worried about quarantine and who is trying to make a few dollars.

These are ideas I want to discuss with Bryant, and with the children. I think this time in quarantine can be life-altering, and in good ways, too.

I want to close with this: the decision we make about how we think about God’s love for us. First, I think it is a decision we make. His love is constant. But we have to choose to accept it. Right? We cannot feel His love unless we choose to think thoughts that will lead us to feel that love that is there and available to us. We have to choose. We know that. Just like feeling your husband’s love or your mother-in-law’s love.

I believe, unlike an imperfect person’s love, a perfect God’s love is perfectly unwavering: “Christ is the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8). That means that His love for me is the same yesterday, and today, and for ever. I believe this. This is something that I can decide to believe, once.

And nothing I can do can change His love for me. But, if I don’t make that decision to feel that love, once and for all – if I have to keep making that decision, every time life get’s difficult or I make a poor choice or whatever, I will have to reconsider what I will believe about God’s love for me, from that place of shame or discouragement.

Let me close with the scripture. It was one of my favorites growing up – very formative in my youth.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? …Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/nt/rom/8?lang=eng