In January, Bry and I were looking at the year ahead of us. It was a solemn experience. Yes, there were schools opening and vaccines on the horizon, but there were also dear friends who were near the end of their lives. I told Bryant that we will have a funeral to attend this year. He looked down, “I think we will have a few to attend.” Shortly after, Robertson Ward passed away. I remember my friend, Brandie, comforting me after Rob’s passing. “The death of friends is always difficult. I hope you feel soothed by the spirit. I love you a lot, dear friend.”
On 16 February, my dear friend, Brandie, passed away, herself.
Bryant said, “I wouldn’t have expected at this point in our lives, to be attending our parents’ weddings and our friends’ funerals.”
I was reading a book yesterday, and it mentioned the story behind the hymn, It Is Well With My Soul. I shared it with my children.
This hymn was written after traumatic events in Spafford’s life. The first two were the death of his four-year-old son and the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which ruined him financially. His business interests were further hit by the economic downturn of 1873, at which time he had planned to travel to England with his family on the SS Ville du Havre, to help with D. L. Moody’s upcoming evangelistic campaigns. In a late change of plan, he sent the family ahead while he was delayed on business. While crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the ship sank rapidly after a collision with a sea vessel, the Loch Earn, and all four of Spafford’s daughters died. His wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, “Saved alone …”. Shortly afterwards, as Spafford traveled to meet his grieving wife, he was inspired to write these words as his ship passed near where his daughters had died.
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
But Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.
And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
A song in the night, oh my soul!
I don’t know that the Lord causes tragedy – deaths, pandemics, fires, wars, divorces, etc. It was, this past month, the anniversary of the birth and then the death of Matthew. Eight years now. We had a discussion over the breakfast table, with the children. Some of the children believe that God causes everything. I don’t know if that is true. But I know that God uses everything! The good and the bad – the Lord can use it all! And we have an opportunity to grow from heartbreak to heartbreak. And to be better for having had the experience. How grateful I am for the Lord’s loving hand in our lives.
PRINCIPLES STUDIED THIS WEEK:
I’ve been looking more closely at negative emotions this week. I think, whether it’s a death or a divorce or sickness or just a hard day at work, negative emotions are something that we will have the opportunity to experience regularly. It’s part of the 50/50. But, remember, we can use the 50 negative to really learn and to really grow into who it is we want to be. That is an option!
Let’s try and do some of that today.
My coach this week took me through an exercise in processing negative emotion.
- Find a quiet place where you can be alone, and take a couple deep breaths.
- Name the pain. Is it betrayal? Is it rejection? Is it helplessness? Is it loneliness?
“Ask yourself, ‘What am I feeling?’ A lot of times with this particular question, people want to say to me, ‘I feel hurt.’
Well, ‘hurt’ is not our most useful descriptive feeling word, because we’re just simply saying, ‘I feel something that doesn’t feel good.’
But if we can get a little deeper like, ‘Why are you hurting, what is the emotion that hurts?’ this will tip us off as to what the thoughts are that are creating it.”Jody Moore
- Find and name where you feel the pain in your body.
- Describe the pain, as if you are describing it to someone who had never felt that pain before.
- Is the pain constant or pulsating?
- What is the temperature of the pain?
- What is the shape of the pain?
- What is the texture of the pain?
- What is color of the pain?
- Where else are you feeling the pain? It usually manifests itself in our physical bodies in two or three areas. Is it in your throat? Is it in your chest? Is the pain in your forehead? Or behind your eyes?
- Notice if the pain is moving at this point?
The pain will dissipate as you go through this exercise. And when we feel this same pain again, process it again. And again. Some pain has lived for a long long time in our minds and in our bodies.
This is what “processing your pain” could look like. What would be the opposite, then? I think it’s really helpful to recognize when we are doing the opposite of processing our pain. For me, it feels more natural to resist the pain or push it away. That’s kind of what we’ve been taught throughout our lives. That’s why I really want to look at how I don’t process the pain, so I can recognize it for what it is when I default to doing so.
Not processing pain could look like:
- Turning on music or a movie to distract me from the pain
- Telling myself, You know better than that! or even, Stop it! You’re fine!
- Eating a lot
- Scrolling Pinterest or Facebook
It’s buffering, right? How do you prefer to buffer? What emotion are you not processing by buffering?
Let’s work a model. This is an unintentional model. A quick one tonight.
CIRCUMSTANCE: Julia is climbing on my lap at the kitchen table.
THOUGHT: I’m so tired.
ACTION: I sit really still, and tolerate it for a minute. Then I snap at her. I want to cry. I snap again. I separate myself from her. I try to make it up to her by smiling really nicely. And gently touching her back. Then she reaches out again, and I snap again.
RESULT: I feel like a victim. I act like a victim. I send out mixed messages to her and to the other members of the family. I go to bed.
That thought, I’m so tired, is tricky, right? It kind of appears to be a circumstance, and belong on the C line right? But can it be proven in a court of law? I could prove that I got 4 hours of sleep last night, if I needed to prove that. But I’m so tired is a thought. And does that thought serve me well? Well, not really, looking at the A line and the R line.
What thought would better help me to create what experience I would rather have tonight, sitting at the dinner table? What thought would help me take back control of my feelings, actions, and results, instead of seeing myself as a victim tonight?
And, if I can’t get there tonight (it is getting late for me) can I be okay with the overwhelm? Can I sit with the overwhelm and just decide that I am going to feel overwhelmed tonight?
If I can accept that primary emotion, I won’t layer on top of it frustration that my daughter is climbing on me, right? Do you see that? Or anger that my older children aren’t taking her and playing with her so I could have a break. Can I sit with that primary emotion, and be okay with that. It’s part of the 50/50.