What an unusual time we are living in. It is a time of isolation and with that can come a host of emotions. So I want to share with you my experience this past week and what God has shown me from it.
I used to be a stay at home Mom, but it’s been a long time since I had this privilege. I must say I am enjoying the time with my family. However, with increased time at home and less contact with others, we can get on each other’s nerves if we are not careful. In saying that, I managed to make a mountain out of a molehill playing crib with my husband. It can often be the little things that eat at us.
What came to my attention was my own heart in the matter. I didn’t realize how I can hold a grudge, and how hard it was for me to accept the word “sorry”. Reflecting back on other situations, I started to realize the truth behind what my husband was saying. I always thought I was a forgiving, compassionate and gracious person. I can be. However, at times, I can be a dog with a bone…not willing to give it up. Especially when I think I am right and when I feel justified. But, is that what God has asked of us?
The other part of this story that influences me is my past. Coming from an abusive past, the word sorry had lost it’s meaning. “I’m sorry” became synonymous with “I’m sorry it bothered you and upset you”, not really linked to actual remorse or change. It was an attempt to make me feel better about what had happened and what I wanted to hear. It did not change anything, and I continued to be hurt in the same way, over and over again. So, the meaning was lost.
Fast forward to today, and God has brought so much healing in my life, that I believe he wants to redeem the word “sorry”. It is time for me to let go of the grudges, live a life of true forgiveness and accept those in my life who meaningfully say the word “sorry”. Especially now that we are all cooped up together, with no where to go.
I was reminded of something I had learned in a course my husband and I had attended, called Family Connections (put on by Sashbear Foundation). In reality, how do we actually make healthy changes? What is the practical way to deal with these emotions? Emotions that are so strong like anger? Frustration? Fear?
A practical application we can all put into practice is called Opposite Action. It has a few simple steps to consider, but I believe it is invaluable, and practical. The idea comes from Marsha Linehan, and she has some videos on Youtube you can check out. She says that every emotion has an action. We can change the emotion by changing the action.
For example: The opposite of Anger is
- to gently avoid
- to be decent, kind, don’t make it worse
- to be empathetic and understand their point of view
She lists out steps to take in considering Opposite Action. She states that if you are going to do the opposite action, commit and do it all the way.
Step 1: What emotion are you experiencing? Identify it
Step 2: Ask yourself, what is this “emotion” wanting me to do?
Step 3: Do I want to reduce the emotion?
Step 4: What is the opposite action?
Step 5: Do the opposite action?
In addition to this, I heard a sermon once, called “Do To Be” and the main point was that often we don’t feel like doing the right thing. But if we make a choice to do it, embracing it, it becomes how we feel and act in a positive way.
With all this advice and reflection, when the time comes again and I’m living in the moment when it counts for me to put all this into practice, I pray the Holy Spirit will remind me to do the opposite action; to “do to be”. I want to live my life out of love and forgiveness, to live by the Spirit and not the flesh.
Paul talked about this, he shared his struggles with us when he said, “My lofty desires to do what is good are dashed when I do the things I want to avoid.” Romans 7:19
May we all learn the power of Opposite Action and the power of forgiveness in our lives, that we can be like Paul and confidently say,
“I give all my thanks to God, for his mighty power has finally provided a way out through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One! So if left to myself, the flesh is aligned with the law of sin, but now my renewed mind is fixed on and submitted to God’s righteous principles.” Romans 7:25
The principle of Opposite Action can be used for so many situations and emotions. During this time of isolation, I pray it is a concept that can help you, as it helps me.