Some prescription medication went missing in our house the other day under circumstances that made it clear the disappearance wasn’t accidental. I had to talk to myself before I went to talk to my teenagers.
“I see you, fear,” I said, acknowledging its presence, “I see you, anger.” Naming feelings helps me take a step back, creating a bit of distance. “I will come back to you later. Right now, though, I have to be sensible so I can find out what I need to know.”
Strong feelings act like mental mud in me, interfering with how I think, behave and even pray. When I’m upset I can’t process information as rationally, respond to others as calmly, or talk to God very clearly. Emotions are powerful stuff. Which means I need to deal with them… though not always at the time they are messing with my head.
I took two minutes to breathe slowly (I use a free phone app called MyCalmBeat to help), then sent up a prayer to the Holy Spirit. “Let me see what I need to see and know what I need to know. Give me the words I need to say and the grace to shut up when it’s time,” I asked.
Then I spoke to my teens one by one. I had to pause, take breaks to wipe away more mental mud, then head back into it. It felt like the evening stretched on forever. However, eventually the Case of the Missing Meds got resolved satisfactorily.
I circled back to check in on my feelings. “Still agitated, fear? Still fierce, anger?” No, they were quieter now, because more was known and the picture was clearer. My prayer was clearer, too. “Thank you, Lord, for helping me stay calm so that I was able to ask for and hear your guidance. And thank you that this was not as bad a situation as I feared.”