Emotions, Faith / Spirit, Parenting, Relationships, Self-Improvement

Again and Again and Again

This morning, during my quiet time before the kids woke for the day, I scoured the web (again) for ways to support my daughter with her big, big feelings. 

Yesterday, I “engaged” a little too much. We just got home from another camping trip, and naturally, there was much to do to get unpacked. The big girls know that I expect them to help, and they’re great helpers (meanwhile, my youngest was off destroying the house … and by this, I mean dragging every blanket, pillow, and stuffy she could find to the living room). 

I can’t quite imagine having to tackle the unpacking all on my own. It DOES get to be a little much (even for me) at times, and my oldest communicated that clearly. 

“I feel so overwhelmed,” she said. 

I assured her that I “get it,” whilst still encouraging her to just tackle the next thing. It was the only way to get through the mountain of things that still needed to be done. 

She tried, and things would improve for awhile, but soon, she would slip back down into an emotional “pit.”

I gave her permission to “leave” many times … I encouraged her to go “get well” … to go take care of herself for awhile … to come back if or when she was ready … I told her I didn’t need an “unhappy helper” … 

For almost two hours, we went back and forth, back and forth … as much as I tried not to engage, I COULDN’T escape … the work had to get done … and she wouldn’t leave the common area of the house … so we chirped back and forth, back and forth … I knew it was wrong, but it was impossible for me to hold my tongue … 

The littles eventually “escaped” to a bedroom to play, as we continued our “argument” … most of what I was offering were feeble attempts to get her to “snap out of it” … to go take care of herself … read a book … have something to eat … go for a bike ride … go lay in her bed … snuggle her favourite blankets … ANYTHING other than arguing with me … but she refused … there is no reasoning with her when she’s feeling this way … there’s NOTHING I can do to help it seems … 

The minutes tick by, and the bickering persists … 

And, eventually, I … just … can’t … take it … anymore … and suddenly, I’m in my own emotional “pit,” crying out to God in my bedroom with the door closed, wondering HOW I can possibly support this child … HOW I can HELP this child … 

Trying to support someone through emotional turmoil is SO challenging … SO exhausting … SO draining … and, yet, this is what I am called to do, again and again and again … I’m called to support all three of my daughters through their emotional “upsets” again and again and again … day after day after day … 

I obviously need to get better at this (despite the boatload of work I’ve done in this area already over the years)! 

I KNOW that teaching her WHILE she is upset, is NOT the answer … I KNOW it’s a waste of my breath … I KNOW it’s futile … but I find myself so desperate in those situations, I can’t help but SUGGEST … I can’t help but try to direct or re-direct … I can’t help but encourage … 

I KNOW that the more I try to re-direct, the more resistant my child becomes … I KNOW that the more I try to tell her what to do, the more she fights back … 

I KNOW I need to be “quieter” … to engage less … to hold my tongue more … so after I scoured the web for ways to support my child with her big feelings (and really discovering nothing that I didn’t already know), I turned to the bible for additional insight about “the tongue” … 

Here’s a few of my favourite discoveries this morning … 

“Those who control their tongue will have a long life, opening your mouth can ruin everything.” Proverbs 13:3

“A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” Proverbs 15:1

In James 3, we are reminded that a large horse is controlled by a tiny bit in its mouth; a huge ship is directed by a small rudder; and grand speeches come from the tongue … just as a tiny spark can cause a forest fire.

“And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is the whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.” James 3:6

“People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but NO ONE can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3:7-8

So it seems the challenge of “holding my tongue” just might be universal … the tongue is powerful (and potentially “dark”) … we should definitely aim to “use it” wisely … “blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth … this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both freshwater and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.” James 3:10-12

The “pressure” we feel to speak … the inability to stay quiet … to not engage … is something “evil” … something to resist … something to avoid … but it’s hard … so, so hard! 

As we acknowledge (and accept) the challenge we face in “holding our tongues,” we are offered much grace … “Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.” James 3:2

It’s no secret, how hard such self-control is for some of us … while I’m fierce to resist certain foods, following the crowd, and giving up … it’s apparently very challenging for me to NOT engage when my child is upset … 

I’m so grateful today for this “fresh resource” I found, printed, and posted in the common area of our house (email sign up required) and these words from scripture, assuring me that my battle with “the tongue” is something we all contend with … 

Knowing this, I pray I can “do better” in the future, knowing that ALL humans (including my daughter) struggle with this … I pray that I can hold my tongue … and I pray that I can offer endless compassion, understanding, and grace … because this is what I’ve been called to do … again and again and again …

And I trust this is what I’ll be called to do … again and again and again … especially as a mom of three AMAZING daughters … 

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