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Something was wrong. Attending a family fellowship at church, our ten-year-old son Nathan had just put in some change to buy a can of pop. When the machine didn’t cooperate, he gave the machine a little kick.
My husband, Mike flew across the gym taking Nathan by the shoulders. “What do you think you’re DOING?” he yelled.
I froze. Never before had Mike acted like that. Just then the pastor’s wife walked by.
She looked directly at our son and asked, “Nathan, is anything wrong?”
Mike blurted out, “Wrong? I’ll tell you what’s wrong! We have a 16-year-old kid living in a 10-year-old’s body.”
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Nathan’s face turned beet red. Mine followed suit. I just wanted to disappear.
Emotional earthquakes. They happen. Appearing out of nowhere they shake our worlds giving us aftershocks as well.
Being a problem-solver, I tried to figure out what had happened.
Mike had recently seen a doctor who thought his emotional outbursts were from a adrenal gland that was shot. The doctor recommended Mike stop eating sugar. Could that be what set him off? After all, there were sweets at that church event. It didn’t matter; there was no excuse for it. The yelling was uncalled for, it scared the kids. These precious ones that Mike loved.
Eventually a blood test revealed Mike had some sort of chemical imbalance. He was prescribed medication which changed everything. Now we could get on with our lives without the hulk sometimes making an appearance.
Here are 5 things that help when you find your life shaken by an emotional earthquake:
1. Keep calm. Read Proverbs 15:1. When things become escalated, the last thing you need to do is react with anger. A soft answer can calm things down. I saw this principle work over and over again.
2. Be kind. Read Proverbs 25:21. The person who is emotionally upset is not our enemy. If God is telling us to be kind to our enemies, how much more those whom we love?
In the early years of marriage, I received a call from our friend, Carol. She and her husband had recently divorced and she wanted to visit us for a few days with her two children. I didn’t hesitate when she asked me, even though my gut was telling me to talk it over with Mike first.
Mike awoke shortly after with a backache and asked if I’d give him a back rub.
I told him about my conversation with Carol and that I invited her to come.
“Well you’re gonna have to call her back and tell her she can’t come.” Then he added, “Now are you going to give me a back rub or what?”
The last thing I wanted to do right then was touch him.
3. Pray. God can help us in situations that seem impossible.
So I said, “God help me.”
Kneeling down I gave him a good back rub. I felt like something inside of me was breaking; I think it was my will. I knew I loved Mike, there were just some times I didn’t like him very much.
“That’s good,” Mike said softly. “Thank you, hon.”
I knew God would help me make the call to my friend. He always enables us to do the difficult things.
Downstairs, as I took clothes out of the dryer, I didn’t hear Mike’s footsteps. Touching my shoulder he said, “Now, why don’t you tell me about that call.”
And when I was finished explaining Mike said, “You don’t have to call her back, of course they can come. You know how much I love Carol. This must be so hard for her and the kids.”
That was the Mike I knew. Quietly, I marveled at how God used a back rub to soften my husband’s heart.
4. Be Forgiving. Read Ephesians 4:32. God describes how we are to relate to others. He gives us the strength we need. In our flesh, we want to strike back, but God instructs us to be forgiving. And it has nothing to do with the one we’re forgiving. We’re to forgive because we’ve been forgiven.
Read Luke 23:34. Jesus was beaten and mocked, yet he forgave the very ones who nailed him to that tree. His words were not full of revenge; they were drenched with grace.
5. Consider if things were reversed. Read Luke 6:31. At the moment we’re in an emotional earthquake, whether it’s with a spouse, one of your children, or even a friend, we sometimes think we’d never do what we’ve just experienced. Not us. But we need to imagine how we would want to be treated if the roles were reversed.
God’s Word tells us how to respond when things seem to be falling apart. God will give us the wisdom in those situations. We just need to call on him. The one who’s always there. The one who can calm any storm.
Anne Peterson is a poet, speaker and published author. You can read more about what God did in Anne’s life in her memoir, Broken: A Story of Abuse and Survival. Most recently Anne has published, Droplets, a poetry book for those in grief. She has written six children’s books which include: Emma’s Wish, and The Crooked House. She has also published Bible Studies and over 30 articles with christianbiblestudies.com/Today’s Christian Woman. While Anne enjoys being a poet, speaker and published author, her favorite title is still, “Grandma.”
To find out more about Anne you can visit her at:
Publication date: February 4, 2016