The forecast is continued stormy weather for families during this pandemic.
The end is coming, but we still have a ways to go. In the meantime, emotional storms can flare up suddenly.
We are hearing of couples who have decided to divorce. Unfortunately, their marriages were troubled already – it was the 24/7 forced togetherness and perhaps financial stress that put them over the brink.
The best parents are at wit’s end trying to keep their kids occupied all day long. The anxieties of this situation are eroding people’s emotional resilience fast. Many have filled their pantries with food staples. But what can we all do to stock up on patience and compassion as this pandemic drags on?
What can we do to establish “peace within our walls and security within our homes” (Psalm 122:7)? Here are some measures that have helped us and many others:
Lower Your Expectations
When Emily and I lowered our expectations of each other and focused on what we appreciated about each other, our marriage got a whole lot better.
Kids will act out, sometimes incessantly. There needs to be consequences for deliberate bad behavior, but not a demeaning tirade. It doesn’t work on pets or children – he/she who shouts the loudest. . .loses. But if you do, forgive yourself. Lowering expectations applies to yourself as well. Video record a household member who has lost his or her cool. Then the whole family can watch it and enjoy a big laugh over it. A sense of humor covers a host of sins.
Husbands, tag team supervision of the children with your wife, so that she gets as many breaks as you do. You’re not doing yourself any favors by being married to a totally exhausted nervous breakdown. No breaks from tension = emotional breakdowns.
Be Mindful of One Another’s Triggers
We all have our hot buttons – sensitive spots that are easily triggered. Talk this over with each other and all family members. Make sure everyone knows where to tread lightly. Be gentle with one another’s tender sensitivities. Get everyone to agree to practice this kind of compassion toward each other.
Learn How to Manage Your Emotions
When exposed to prolonged frustration, intense negative feelings build up and our reasonable brain goes offline. Our emotions are running the show. They hijack our behavior into saying and doing things we regret.
We’re in fight or flight mode – our body is ready for action. So give it some harmless action. Run in place, run up and down the hall, make some silly, exaggerated faces. Let family enjoy a laugh and relax the tension.
For more on this, read our blog post titled More Contagious than COVID-19!
Take Care of Your Body So It Can Take Care of Your Brain
You know the drill. Now decide to do it. Hold one another accountable for honoring your body as a temple of the Holy Spirit.
- Eat and drink first for nutrition; only second for taste. Minimize your portions.
- Drink plenty of water, not sugary drinks.
- Avoid white flour, refined and starchy foods.
- Eat whole foods and the rainbow colors of vegetables and fruit to boost your immune system.
- Establish a regular bed time and get sufficient sleep. Sleep until you wake up naturally.
- Bodies were meant to move. Walk. Exercise.
- Go outside and get some fresh air and sun. Viewing trees and greenery is therapeutic.
Feed Your Spiritual Needs
Instead of watching all the doom and gloom news, read the Psalms, Proverbs, and the New Testament letters of Paul, Peter, and James. They apply the ministry and teachings of Jesus to circumstances far worse than ours. Let God’s Word inspire your prayers. “Physical training has some value, but godliness has value. . .for both the present life and the life to come.” (I Timothy 4:8)
Meditate on God’s definition of the “good life.” It has more to do with godliness than the acquisition of good things. Our definition often reflects a self-centered sense of entitlement. We act as if our agenda is wiser and more important than God’s. We think it’s God’s job to give me what I want, to make me happy according to my terms. God is more interested in our godliness than in our creature comforts.
Godliness is a far greater gift than “the good life.” God lets nothing go to waste. He is using this pandemic to help us rest more secure in His forgiveness, love, and provision for anything we truly need. In response, we love Him and love our neighbors as He loves us. Loving and being loved is feeling the warmth of the sun (and the Son of God) on both sides.
Consider the Apostle Paul’s testimony: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11-13)
God, give us that kind of faith.