The Lord graciously allowed me to meet a counselor while we were visiting the first church we tried here in our new city. She has been such a help to me in so many ways, and I don’t want to forget what she has taught me.
Two main coping skills rise to the top when I think of the most helpful things I have learned and practiced—1) floating cloud that I let pass right on by and 2) a purple house.
Let me explain.
First of all, I am an intuitive feeler. I am extremely aware of my feelings, and I am very sensitive to my surroundings. I pick up on what might be coming before others do. Josh might feel the wind from a hurricane, but I feel the wind from a butterfly flapping its wings. The positive of this is that I can sense when something is up with someone in our family or I might have a check in my spirit about someone that Josh doesn’t, and in the past I have proven to be a pretty good read on people. Thankfully, Josh values my input and doesn’t just think I am crazy when I tell him my thoughts. As far as my feelings go, I can really share and share and share some more and sometimes sharing feelings is great and sometimes sharing feelings gets me nowhere except more sad or more distraught.
Enter the cloud.
My counselor said that when I have these feelings of sadness or loneliness or whatever the feeling might be, I could picture it like a cloud floating by. I notice it. I observe it and can even say to myself, “I know you are there, cloud of sadness. I see you, but I am not going to do anything with you…you can just float right on by.” And I can visualize the cloud floating by. I might pray, turn on praise music, or go do laundry or read a book. What I don’t do is rehearse that sadness, make a list of why I am sad, plan my conversation with Josh about what I should do about my sadness, etc. You get the point. And it may sound silly to you. That’s ok. It totally has worked for me many times. I’ve realized that after a few times of doing that with my floating cloud of sadness (or whatever else I may be feeling), it doesn’t grow into this big conversation with no solution or answer. It stays between God and me, and I build up some resiliency. Not everything that goes on in my mind must be shared verbally. I know, crazy, right???!??
On another visit, she told me that she could sense I had done some growing and maturing over our time together. She called it radical acceptance. There were some things in my life that I could not change…and I had gotten to the point that I had surrendered more than ever to the fact that God has a much better plan for me than I could ever dream up on my own. Praying looked more like sitting before the Lord than asking for anything in particular. Just sitting in His presence, trusting Him more and more. Instead of wringing my hands before Him, they were open and laying in my lap. Nothing to do. Nothing to ask for. She gave an illustration about a purple house.
Suppose you find a house that is perfect for you and your family. Exactly what you would want in all ways….except for the fact that it is purple. You tell your real estate agent that you will buy this house as long as it is painted a different color for you. You go to the closing, you sign the contract and get the keys to your new house. You drive over with excitement in your heart, only to find that the house is still purple (forget the whole contract should have said it would be painted business….Josh couldn’t quite get past this part…but just go with me). Sooooo, you have choices. You can go crazy-mad and call your agent and bless her out for not taking care of this. You can cry and sulk and whine as you look at the purple house you just bought. You can sue the previous owners.
Or you can get the house painted.
Radical acceptance. It helps us move forward. We have to be mature enough to reign in our emotions (let the clouds float on by) and deal with reality.
So there you have it, two coping skills that have been a help to me. Maybe they’ll be a help to you as well!