What You’re Feeling is Real, But maybe not What You Think it Is

People started talking about cabin fever the day after their mayor or governor directed them to shelter in place. Maybe they are the folks who rarely stay at home for anything, those who dash off to the store, the crab shack, the boardwalk, the open road–anywhere at the drop of a hat. (For the kids at home, “the drop of a hat” is an expression from the days when adults wore hats daily and dropped them on the sidewalk, taxi seat, or chaise lounge several times a day. At those times certain people would do that thing they would do and, you know.)

Now that most of us are working from home or at least staying at home more than we would have been, we may find ourselves more irritable than normal. We may act and react with emotions we didn’t expect, and because of that, we may not feel okay (insert tangentially related song).

Some of us don’t know what to do with our emotions, dismissing them as temporal fancies that should be reined in at every moment. Or wishing they could be. We take our emotions as improper bursts of energy or simply the way we express ourselves. We see no meaning behind our feelings.

But our emotions do have meaning, just not clearly spelled out ones. They point to our values and fears. If we take the time to ask ourselves why we reacted the way we did, we may discover connections we didn’t know we had.

When we yell at our family over something small, let’s not excuse ourselves because of our current stress levels. Let’s ask the reason for the outburst.

  • Maybe we’re not taking care of ourselves, so we’re simmering just under the lid, able to boil over with the slightest jostle. This is primarily a physiological issue that saps patience; small annoyances can feel like big ones when we don’t take care of ourselves.
  • Maybe the small thing triggered a bigger thing, something that’s actually worth being angry about. That will take some reflection to work out. It doesn’t annul the sin we committed in blowing up over the small thing, but it’s important to explore the connections we’ve made so that our good anger will have its proper place.
  • The most common reason for anger is a selfish desire to have our own way. We don’t want to be challenged, even on the little things.

It could take a while to talk through a prideful mindset, but I hope we can agree that no matter what kind of personality we have, a domineering pride harms the people around us and sins against the Lord by usurping his proper place. He is the one who will not be challenged, yet he takes all of our complaints and disobedience with patience, showing us grace we don’t deserve.

That’s the very thing we need every day, inside the cabin or out–the Lord’s grace, something man cannot make out of the clay in his own yard. God has the patent on it.

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