Mid-Life Coping Skills {31 Days of Celebrating Middle Age}

                                         (prints and cards of the above art are available here )

First of all, many thanks to my Detroit friend Louise Trombley for the idea-seed for this particular post...

Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.   (Isaiah 26:20)

We've been talking about how intensely practical this thing called "Soul Care" really is.  I want to share with you just one of the many new coping skills I have learned in the last 5 years - one that has comforted and ultimately protected me.  I am so grateful to Louise for linking a Scripture to this concept for me.

In times of excruciating emotional pain (please believe me...I have been there) I have learned to do...nothing.  Not even pray.  I happen to believe that I live my life in the presence of God, and that He hears my groanings when they cannot be uttered.

I.  Do.  Nothing.  I send no four-alarm emails, I don't rally friends to prayer, I don't call my best girlfriend, I don't even talk to my husband.  I "enter into my chambers and shut my door and hide myself" until the strong emotions, like a tornado churning through the landscape of my soul, pass over me. 

In the above Isaiah scripture, "indignation" can really be any excruciatingly intense emotion.  It could be anger or despair or hopelessness or offense. The good news is, it will be "overpast" soon...that death angel has to pass over, because I am covered by the blood of Christ.

To call a friend, or friends - to plaster my negative emotions on (God forbid) Facebook - to sound the alarm and call a prayer meeting would be to make it all about my emotion du' jour (the feeling of the moment).  It would be to tweak the emotions of every person who cares about me - over a feeling that will soon be 'overpast'.

Bear with me, I know this goes against the feminine grain.  I am not talking about an unhealthy independence.  I am not saying we don't need the support of others in our life.  I am simply saying that you need to "hide yourself" when you are under the influence.

You know what I mean.

Once I've "sobered up", when the "indignation be overpast",   then I send that email.  I call that friend.  I mention the issue to the awesome girlfriend with whom I meet weekly for prayer.  I sit down and talk to my Preacher about it. 

But only when I am in control of my emotions, not my emotions controlling me.

Paul David Tripp, in his incredible book Lost in the Middle puts it this way:

"In moments of deep personal disappointment...we often let our hurt set the agenda for us.  And when we do, we inevitable live to regret those decisions and the legacy they leave behind.  This too, is a danger of the midlife struggle.  In moments of disappointment and disorientation, in the grief of regret and the sadness at the death of our dreams, we are very vulnerable to making decisions that will add further trouble to the trouble we are already experiencing."

I believe with all my heart that it goes back to simply hiding yourself away until those strong emotions pass over you.

I pray you take this as the tool in your midlife toolbox it is meant to be.  Hopefully it won't be the most used tool in the toolbox...just the one tool that will make all the difference in the world at the right time.

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