I will just say it: I’m a feeler. I’m the type that shows her feelings on her sleeve. Happy, angry, sad, excited to see you — trust me, you will know! My face tends to show it all.
Throughout my life, specifically as an adult, I had to majorly dial back these emotions in my professional and home life – especially at home! In the Van Peursem household, there are two little ladies running around and let’s just say our estrogen levels are strong. Pray for my husband!
Such strong emotions came at a young age for my oldest daughter Lillian. She is just like her mama. 😬 Take this picture for example, right before changing her diaper.
At three months old she already perfected a look of disapproval, disgust, anger, and sadness all rolled into one.
Honestly, that is how I have been feeling on the inside these last few months — feelings of being overwhelmed have maxed out our household.
“When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then YOU knew my path” (Psalm 142:3, paraphrased). Let’s just say our path has been full of twists and turns reflecting our emotions, but God has been there every step of the way.
He has been there when my husband and I went from working in an office to working at home (with our kids at home too!) He knew my position would be temporarily furloughed … and then he knew when I’d start working full-time again! I had big emotions through all of it (and when dealing with Covid-19 and the local riots), but he helped me process my feelings in a surprising way – by helping my children work through theirs.
It was hard when I had to explain to my two and four year olds why Bible Camp wasn’t happening this summer, and why they had to spend multiple weeks at home away from “germs” instead of with friends at daycare. I saw that look of dissatisfaction and sadness wash over their sweet faces. (And it can make short-fused toddler emotions even shorter!)
But as we sorted through all these feelings, God reminded us to do three things consistently in order to navigate these emotions:
The three breath rule. This ranked as a number one go-to in our house because of the effectiveness factor! Every time the girls feel overwhelmed by their emotions, they take three deep breaths followed by slow exhales. It calms them down and helps them navigate their feelings without exploding. I do this too!
We talk about our feelings more frequently. We talk about why we feel what we feel and how we can navigate our emotions. This is huge. We address our emotions right away which helps the girls understand the cause and effect of feelings (re: when I feel angry, I don’t push my sister because that is a reaction to anger. It’s ok to feel angry. It’s NOT ok to push.)
Listen to and sing songs about our feelings. Worship music has always been my lifeline and the girls love listening to songs about the fruits of the spirit. One of their favorites we sing is, “When the road gets bumpy, don’t you dare get grumpy, just smile, smile, smile and be happy!” That song instantly turns their frowns upside down. Doing these things more regularly has helped ALL of us in this season.
Ultimately, teaching our girls to keep God as the anchor of their hearts and their feelings shows in their actions (and in mine too!). James 1:19 says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” By navigating our hearts in this season we can glorify God, regardless of how young or old we are, or how small or big our feelings are. We CAN find our peace in Him.