Encouragement for Emotional Exhaustion

calm.response

Are there days you wish you could be like Star Trek’s Spock? Void of emotions. Ever wish you could take a day off from your emotions?

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could pick and choose which emotions you’d experience? I’d keep exuberant joy, passionate love, and heartfelt compassion. And pass on sorrow, worry, depression, and frustration.

Emotions seem so hard to tame. It’s critical to control our responses to a child with serious mental illness (MI). If we don’t hide our reactions, we could enflame an explosive situation. If we reveal our frustration, we could drive a child deeper into depression.

A new perspective will help us maintain a calm demeanor. Here’s how I tried to convey that point to a teacher. As Director of Instruction, I provided support to educators. One day a teacher came to me with a concern.

“Frank comes into my class every day late. He never has all his supplies or his homework. He doesn’t pay attention and calls out regularly.”

“Why are you angry?” was my reply.

He blinked in confusion and repeated his statement.

“Frank comes into my class every day late. He never has all his supplies or his homework. He doesn’t pay attention and calls out regularly.”

“Why are you angry?” I repeated, using a casual tone.

Assuming I didn’t understand his statement, he elaborated on the points made.

“Frank interrupts my class by coming into my class every day late. He’s failing academically because he never has all his supplies or his homework. When he doesn’t pay attention he feels it’s okay to call out without raising his hand.”

“Why are you angry?” I repeated with the same calm tone.

In stunned silence he glared at me. He needed my support and expected my sympathy. And felt like he got neither. First, he needed to hear my explanation.

“Frank’s not doing it TO you. You’re the professional. You need not take his behavior personally. He has ADHD. He’s lacking the skills. I can help you by providing suggestions and support to equip Frank with improved study skills.”

Anger can make a situation worse. It’s possible to respond without being annoyed when we understand the source of the behaviors.

MI causes behaviors which mimic noncompliance. A parent demands, “Answer me.” The depressed child who remains silent can seem disobedient. A mother shouts, “Stop throwing things!” The psychotic child who throws again can appear rebellious.

Do we excuse wrong behaviors because the child has MI? No. Do we stop requiring appropriate behaviors? No. But we need not react in anger when our instructions aren’t followed correctly.

It helps to keep a focus on the source of behaviors. Allowing the Holy Spirit guide our reactions helps even more. The fruit of the Holy Spirit includes gentleness. We have access to divine calmness if we learn to yield to it. Could that be one reason God has allowed MI to enter our world? For our spiritual growth. To see Him work in our lives.

One of my favorite inspirational speakers and authors is John Maxwell. Here’s one of his quotes.

“… if you don’t have peace, it isn’t because someone took it from you; you gave it away. You cannot always control what happens to you, but you can control what happens in you.”
John C. Maxwell, Be a People Person

John Maxwell’s father once told him, “It’s not what’s happening around you that’s important; it’s what’s happening IN you.”

God is using our trial to cultivate the fruits of the Spirit: gentleness, long suffering, joy, peace, and unconditional love.

Father, help us know which battles to choose and when to ignore behaviors. Help us pause in situations to let You have victory in our emotional responses.

Matt Redman sings about God being slow to anger in his song ‘Bless the Lord.’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jYLTn4fKYQ

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