Emotional Budgeting: 4 Line Items We Can No Longer Afford
“So, remove grief and anger from your heart and put away pain from your body, because childhood and the prime of life are fleeting.”
In other words life is too short to continuously operate at an emotional loss. There are some things we can no longer afford. To get your heart moving towards abundance eliminate the following as soon as possible:
There is a house my husband and I stroll by on our walk which usually has a dog hanging out on the lawn. This dog snarls and barks when we walk pass. The first time he charged at us my husband moved in between me and the dog as I prepared to run. But, the dog stopped about a foot from the edge of the lawn. Obviously an electric fence was in place to keep the dog in the yard. Now, when we walk pass that house, I feel safer knowing there is a border between the dog and our ankles.
Politics aside, borders are necessary to define the boundaries of a territory and protect those on both sides. Boundaries are good. Nations need boundaries, dogs need them, and people need boundaries too. But borders are only as effective as the mechanisms put in place to enforce them against trespassers. Our personal borders need to remain tightly closed against any who deliberately seek to hurt, undermine, or belittle us and those who have a habit of relating to us in a way that leaves us feeling devalued. Walk in love with all but keep your inner circle filled with those who are lovingly honest, celebratory, prayerful, and trustworthy.
A woman I know was joking around with her husband. Remarried after an emotionally anemic first marriage, she was determined to have fun with her new husband. They kid each other pretty hard but it’s good-natured. The husband said, in jest, “You’re so bossy!” Suddenly her laughter turned to angry tears. Unbeknownst to him, her first husband had a habit of calling her “controlling”. The word “bossy” triggered the hurtful, debilitating feelings that made her feel like an enemy in her own home.
Triggers are actions or words that cause an irrational reaction to an otherwise benign situation. They’re tricky little buggers who spring up, without warning, in the middle of every day, even enjoyable, moments and can ruin relationships. Usually our triggers are rooted in a wound or painful memory from a past relationship. We have to deal with the pain of our past so we can enjoy life today. That means learning to face the truth about our past, identify, and disarm our triggers so they no longer influence our behavior.
Hold your stones sisters. I’m not talking nail polish. I mean O.P.I. You know, Other People’s Issues. I always gain insight when chatting with friends. Years ago I had a conversation with a sister friend who has spent many years discipling many people. Not everyone she discipled has maintained their faith. She has felt bad, cried over their souls, prayed for them, but not once has she taken responsibility for their choices. She said, “I am responsible for my actions alone.” Those 7 words brought freedom. My own issues are more than enough without adding the issues of others to the cart.
The Bible clearly describes how we are to come alongside others. Walking in love involves rejoicing with those who rejoice, mourning with those who mourn, and bearing each other’s burdens. There is great privilege in being invited into the hearts of others. BUT, there is a vast difference between being the Source and being a resource. While we are called to bear the burdens of others, we are called to carry them to a destination and leave them there. We pray and ask God what to do in each situation so that people get what they need from Him. He has an inexhaustible supply of grace, mercy and solutions. I do not! When people try to dump their issues on you, remember the best thing we can do for others is to lovingly point them to the only One who can provide hope, help and healing.
My maternal grandmother was the definition of sweetness. I remember one person in particular who took advantage of her in horrible ways but she always opened her home and welcomed them. Nothing necessarily wrong with that. Then that person stole from her. Repeatedly. We all knew it. She kept welcoming them. We confronted grandma with the evidence. Her response? “She’s a nice person. I don’t want to hear this!” She opened her home and welcomed the thief again.
I apologize to all of the real “Pollyanas” reading this today. Your beautiful name gets a bum rap. Unfortunately, it’s the name we use for people who will not acknowledge genuinely negative experiences. I used to be a Pollyana. I was blindly optimistic. I refused to recognize or accept unpleasant people or experiences because my false sense of peace was threatened. Listen, the person constantly needling you is NOT a misunderstood nice person who needs a mother very badly! They’re mean. Possibly vindictive. Acknowledge that. Quack. Waddle. Duck! It’s not un-Christ-like to see clearly. It’s only when we see clearly and deal truly that freedom can come for everyone.
Maybe you see yourself here. Maybe not. There are many behaviors and lies we believe which impair our emotional health. We’ll likely need help to become whole. If you find yourself in an emotional deficit, I encourage you to talk to someone. Talk to your Father in Heaven. Your family and friends. Your Pastor. A therapist. And know, no matter where you are, there is grace for you to journey on.
Time for community encouragement! What behaviors or lies have you successfully overcome as you healed emotionally?