Have you ever lost a child in a crowd? Or been cooking and suddenly there’s flames on the stove? Life can get scary and overwhelming real fast. When situations like these pop up in my life I start to count, or recite my ABCs. I do it because 2 always comes before 3 and F is always followed by G. It calms my mind and distracts me from the situation just enough so I can process objectively and react appropriately.
I’m not sure when I began employing this little trick in my life. I do it consistently and almost spontaneously. So much so that when I was 11 or 12 and had to call an ambulance because my little sister was choking- the ambulance didn’t come. Not at first anyways. The 911 dispatcher called back about 10 minutes later to check on the situation. They thought it was a prank call, I was too calm. Luckily, my dad was able to dislodge what was stuck in my sister’s throat. I learned that day that people have expectations of appropriate reactions for situations, whether they admit it or not.
There are other kinds of curveball situations that come up in life which leave me uncertain, overwhelmed and worried. The big curveballs like diagnoses, job losses, break ups, major life changes; and the little ones like arguments, hurtful words, unexpected bills, car troubles. I get in thick and deep with all the feelings and no matter how many times I sing those ABCs I can’t get an objective look, and I rarely respond appropriately. Most often it doesn’t seem to matter because I’m reacting the way people have deemed appropriate, whether they admit it or not.
I have to learn how to ground myself in a different way in these situations. On a foundation as reliable as those ABCs. I need to ground myself in the truth. God loves me. Me, a sinner. He loves me so much that He forgave my sins. He made a way for me to come back close to Him.
When I’m deep in the feels of a curveball, I want to know why. I want to know why this situation is occurring. I want to know why it had to happen this way. I want an explanation. God very rarely tells me why. He doesn’t withhold the information because I don’t have that level of security clearance. He doesn’t explain because I can’t understand. I cannot comprehend how this one situation is affected by and creates an effect for all of the other situations that have happened, are happening and will happen; for me and for others.
Not knowing makes me feel out of sorts and that causes my behaviour to be out of sorts. Life throws me a curveball and I can behave real unholy real fast. So I need to get some distance from my situation. Just enough so I can process objectively and react appropriately.
God loves me. Full stop. He loves me regardless of what I’m feeling.
I am a sinner. My sin distances me from God. In the overwhelming, sad, scary situations that leave me feeling far from God, I need to deal with my sin (which is usually my behaviour in the situation) and get myself grounded on that foundation of love again.
I am forgiven. I have everything I need to come back close to God’s love, but sometimes I won’t forgive myself. God doesn’t tell me to go away, but I keep myself from going back. I need to get over that, accept the forgiveness and get back to that foundation of God’s love again.
The same way that reciting my ABCs and 123s enables me to process objectively and react appropriately in the moment, the truth of God’s love enables me to process objectively and react appropriately on a consistent basis, even when I’m thrown one of those curveballs in life.
I’m working on making it as spontaneous and consistent as my calmness in emergencies. When I am following the example of Christ my behaviour should not give away how I feel. That’s not to say I should be fake and pretend it’s all good all the time. Jesus wept. But His behaviour never became unholy, even while He was feeling all the things. Being grounded in the truth of love gives me just enough distance from my circumstances to respond objectively and behave appropriately.
Love is patient. Even when we’re rushed.
Love is kind. Even when we’re hurt.
Love doesn’t envy. Even when someone else got the blessing we wanted.
Love doesn’t boast. Even when we did something awesome.
Love is not proud. Even when we earned that gold star.
Love is not rude. Even when you were rude to me.
Love is not self-seeking. Even when no one else is taking care of me.
Love is not easily angered. Even when it feels justified.
Love keeps no record of wrongs. Even when we’re exhausted by forgiving them.
Love does not delight in evil. Even when it looks really fun.
Love rejoices with the truth. Even when it means making a hard choice.
Love always protects. Even when it requires sacrifice.
Love always trusts. Even when we don’t understand.
Love always hopes. Even when it feels hopeless.
Love always perseveres. Even when we want to give up.