By: M. Diane Pearce, MFT, Legacy Strategy Clinical Director
It appears that we are all in a position to fortify our "shelter in place!" After COVID-19 cases begin to subside in our nation, perhaps we can all move forward with a renewed appreciation for our family. Perhaps, even in spite of the likelihood of COVID-19 intensifying the risks for divorce, abuse and domestic violence reports. We have all broken from our learned ‘normal’ rhythm of living together. The stress of more time with our families, more anticipated responsibilities and financial tension can cause the strongest to feel overwhelmed.
How do we survive these unprecedented circumstances with our Families intact?
How do we keep intact the family and what family was created to be in the midst of our uncertainty?
Perhaps the following eight strategies can assist you in protecting the Family safety of your "shelter in place" in the midst of any pandemic.
8 SURVIVAL TIPS ON RELATIONAL STRATEGIES IN A PANDEMIC:
View Part 2 for Tips 5-8.
Tray Tankersley, Th.M, Counseling Intern
In the counseling industry, I've discovered a key ingredient to marriages that “succeed” in therapy and those that don’t. You may venture your own guess- Is it improved communication techniques, great conflict resolution skills, proficiency in identifying feelings? I love all of those…and they are ALL important to building marital satisfaction.
What about discovering my spouse’s love language? Becoming more attuned to the other? Yep, those are good, too!
Praying together, attending church, joining a small group? Fabulous choices!
However, what stands out to me in counseling as a key factor for working towards greater fulfillment in marriage is HUMILITY.
I wish I had a nickel for every moment in couple’s therapy when I thought to myself – “if one of you, just one of you, would self-administer one small dosage of humility, the entire tone of this conversation and marriage would change.” I call it a Neil Armstrong moment – “One small step for spouse…one giant leap for marriage.”
Here’s the catch- Easy to say…hard to do! It's easy to talk about humility and the need for its presence in all relationships. But inviting humility into the counseling room and into every corner of the marriage relationship? Well, therein lies the challenge. We all know, however, that we must build our marriage on more than words.
An ancient hymn provides the Christian with a well-lit path to developing a heart of humility. Before referencing the hymn’s words, the author instructs his readers, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
In other words, have the same mindset as Jesus, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage. Rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death-even death on a cross!”
The thing is, we cannot manufacture humility in our life. Humility flows only from a heart that is consistently reminded that God made himself nothing so that we might have everything. Our God left the security and comforts of heaven to come to this broken world and experience its brokenness and injustice so that we might avoid the justice of God for our multiple wrong doings. Instead of walking around demanding that people recognize him, bow down to him, serve at his beck and call, our God used his divinity to pay our debt.
The language of humility is simple – “I’m sorry. I was wrong. I did not intend to do that, but I clearly see how you experienced my words like that. Will you forgive me?” Good words! My hope is that those words come from a heart transformed by the Good News that our Creator humbled himself, valued us above his own interests and died so we could live!
M. Diane Pearce, Phd
Finding myself having an intense reaction to others, because I feel slighted, discarded, overlooked or without value warrants a renewal of practicing meditations on truth. This calls for an adjustment of my auto-pilot or muscle memory reactions.
When someone says or does things that hurts me, it is time to consider and think on what I know to be true. Meditating on truth is a necessity!
Help me, Father, to remember and rest in the awareness that…
I know that Abba Father values me as His own, because He made me.
I know that Abba Father calls me by name, because He rescues me from myself.
I know that Abba Father calls me to do for others, because He equips me.
I pray - Help me to remember and rest in the awareness of these truths, especially when I am hurt by the unavailability, abandonment, forgetfulness or unkindness of others.
Help me when I am hurting to admit it to you, my heavenly Father, and to the other person when appropriate. Help me to do this without blaming, accusing, or labeling them or their actions. After all, I do not answer for their actions, I answer only for my own. Have mercy on them, as they do not know the effects of what they have done.
Give me courage and strength to change my reactions to others.
Give me serenity to accept where they are at and that I do not know their circumstances in full.
Give me discernment to know the difference between what I can change and what I cannot change.
Give me wisdom to only invest my thoughts and energy in changing what I am in control of, nothing more and nothing less.
If I am granted the right amount of courage, serenity, and discernment, I will be equipped to invest with those who are receptive, and I will also be able to ‘shake it off’ with those who are not receptive.
Help me to listen to the voice of truth and reason while never underestimating the power of my emotions.
To ignore my emotion sets me up to have a spillover reaction towards others. To place too much value on emotion will lead me to isolate in hopes of avoiding discomfort. So, there is a delicate balance that I am incapable of managing on my own. This is the reason for me to be conscious of the ever-present help of my creator, my heavenly Father.
To be conscious of His presence, I choose to be mindful and fully tuned into His words more than any other words spoken by others.
For further study: Scripture adapted from NIV Holy Bible, Hosea 6:8, Zephaniah 3:17, Matthew 10, 12 & 13.
Warmly, ~dr P
M. Diane Pearce, Ph.D, LMFT
As I celebrate the birth of Jesus, I tend to over schedule, over socialize, over spend, and I get overwhelmed. (Merry Christmas!) Like a clown juggler, I attempt to balance my schedule, socializing, finances, health, and holiday cheer (I think). Then I strive to focus on the One who made Christmas possible. Ironic, don’t you think?
In my constant flurry of activity, perhaps it is time to STOP! Perhaps I can take a deep breath of fresh air and consider some advice from the One who has made Christmas possible.
My Father tells me to "preserve sound judgment and discernment." He tells me to "never let it out of my sight." It does not take a doctor to know that there may be a problem here. He also tells me that If I follow this path of "sound judgment and discernment," I will "go forth in safety and I will not stumble." That sounds like a good deal to me (and, let me tell you, I know a good deal when I see one, because, as you may have guessed, I have practiced looking for good deals a lot!). Also, I need all the help I can get in the "not stumbling" part. I have been a stumbling kind of person my entire life! But, I digress, that is another story for another day.
Back to the sweet deal of walking the "sound judgment and discernment" path. This sounds like a sweet deal to my simple-minded ways. Oh, but it gets better! He also tells me that if I follow this path, I will "lie down without being afraid, and my sleep will be sweet." Sleep that is not out of pure exhaustion can be sweet (at least that is what I tell myself). Really? I am a skeptic! If a deal sounds too good to be true, don’t trust it! Right? But, this is my Father who is telling me this! He says that He is my confidence. But I am a pretty self-reliant, logical woman with a few degrees and several years of experience. Yet He tells me that my confidence should be in Him, not in myself?
My faithful and trustworthy Father who made me, who has sworn to protect me, equips me and teaches me how to do this complicated thing called life. He tells me to STOP! So I take a deep breath, and I am quiet and still, inside and outside. He reminds me that He loves me! He delights in me. He is patient with me when I go off on my own agenda, because He knows I will always return. He knows me well, because He made me, just as I am.
I am & always will be broken and in recovery.
I am & always will struggle with being too blunt to be socially acceptable.
I am & always will struggle with vacillating between being too honest and too quiet.
I am & always will be a skeptic of what appears perfect.
I am & always will be driven to find a way, when others say, there is no way.
I am & always will be unimpressed with social status and authority.
I am & always will struggle to understand social cues.
I am & always will be in recovery from asking too many questions in pursuit of truth.
I am & always will struggle with not fitting in with the majority.
Yes, I am messy and broken. I will forget some things. Dinner may get burnt or forgotten. My Christmas gifts may not be exactly as others want them to be. I will likely not get the best deal out there. I will disappoint those around me.
But, I know who my Father is! So, for now, I accept that I am incapable of the Christmas juggle. My confidence must come from my Father. Not from myself.
Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas!
Broken and in recovery…just as I am,
M. Diane Pearce
Co-Founder of Legacy Strategy, Inc.
(For further study, see NIV Proverbs 3:21-26, Zeph. 3:17)
While jogging today (I say that loosely), I began to think about the seasons. When I think about all four of them, I realize it is important to not rush through them because I can enjoy all of them if I reflect on the purpose behind each one. I could look at the dried up creek bed and see it as a gross, disgusting mess and discard it as an eye sore. Or I can look forward to God's faithfulness and see the beauty and possibility. I can trust that the creek bed will be flourishing and gushing full of fresh water very soon. Beauty to be inhaled.
Spring is a time of planting and renewal. Summer is a time of growth and flourishing. Fall is a time of preparation and reflecting. Winter is a time of struggles and rest.
When I ponder the seasons of life, it is apparent that even during the cold, dark days of winter, such as the loss of a loved one, divorce, loss of a job, whatever the type of struggle, growth and positive change occur in my life if I allow it. If I focus on the hurt and the pain and not the hope of possibility, I can stay stuck in old patterns of defeat and anger.
It is important for me to reflect on the future and the areas I need to develop regarding my relationships as well as my future goals and not quit because the months seem so daunting and lonely. Spring is around the corner. God designed the seasons that way.
Transition can be hard, but fresh hope and life begin by trusting in the possibility of the future. I can plant seeds by investing in others and myself so that by the time summer comes I can bask in the beauty and freedom that summer brings. Even towards the end of summer, the heat can set in and if I am not careful my focus can go back to the past and the lessons I have learned can be forgotten.
I am thankful for the seasons and the constant repeat of rest, renewal, growth, and at times difficulties. But I know that I do not walk alone and my Father in Heaven will never leave me or forsake me. This is where hope and trust intersect.
Legacy strategy Blog
Legacy Strategy, Inc. is a private counseling practice in Kennesaw, Georgia.