Who hasn’t let unmet expectations with a friend or loved one go unattended until a once-revved relationship slowly stalls? All the more tempting is dodging conflict in the interest of maintaining a peaceful homelife, when the “friend or loved one” is our spouse. Which is why I’m grateful for Kimberly Miller’s real-life example of how she and her husband used a breakthrough approach that I have personally adopted to grow through conflict rather than allowing it to curb their marriage. Kim’s passion for harmonious relationships prompted her to start Leading Wholeheartedly, a ministry that helps Christian leaders cultivate their inner lives, resulting in more sustainable service to others. In her book, Boundaries for Your Soul, Kim explains how to befriend the sometimes challenging parts of ourselves, and others, to create wholeness within and without. I am thrilled to welcome Kim back to the farm’s front porch today. . .
It was a busy season in our marriage. My husband, Ken, was writing under a tight deadline, and I was preparing to lead a soul-care retreat.
While we focused on these commitments, our stack of unopened mail grew higher and higher.
On my way to and from the coffeemaker each day, I eyed it with growing aggravation.
A part of me insisted that someone take action—I couldn’t focus on my retreat preparation until this administrative mission had been accomplished. The mail was cluttering our kitchen and my mind. And to make matters worse, Ken didn’t seem troubled at all.
After much stewing, my reformer part (the part of me that wants to improve everything and everyone) sought out an opportunity to settle the matter and waited for the right moment. Sure enough, one morning Ken smiled kindly and said, “Your birthday’s coming up, and I’m wondering what you would like this year.”
“I’d like you to help me with the mail for one hour,” I instantly replied.
From the bewildered look on his face, I could see that a part of Ken wasn’t at all enthused by my idea for a birthday present.
“How about I take you out for a romantic dinner?” he responded cautiously.
And just like that, there was tension between us.
Thankfully, the Holy Spirit within prompted me to take what I call a You-Turn.
First, I turned my attention inward and realized a part of me was anxious about the growing pile of mail that wasn’t magically disappearing. I got curious about this part of my soul and came to appreciate my fear that Ken and I might overlook some important letter or bill.Befriending and gaining compassion for my worry, I invited Jesus to draw near.
I handed over to Him my fear and received peace in exchange. In partnership with God’s Spirit, I began to think about how to speak with Ken moving forward.
As a result of my You-Turn, I was able to speak on behalf of my fear with intentionality instead of being reactive.
The next evening, I waited in the kitchen for Ken to come home from work. When he walked in the door, he held open his arms for a hug. “Honey,” I said, “I’m sorry. I love you and know you love me. And a part of me is feeling anxious that some things aren’t getting done.”
Once he understood that a part of me was feeling anxious, we were able to conquer the mountain of mail together! We felt more connected to each other and, from that place, were able to clarify our respective responsibilities at home.
This experience reminded me that, when problem-solving, it’s crucial to develop emotional awareness and share new discoveries with the ones I love.
Speaking on behalf of my worry freed us to enjoy working together—and to be reminded all over again that we make a great team!
One useful habit to develop with a close friend or spouse is simply to agree that when one of you feels anxiety, or any other challenging emotion, you’ll say, “Just a moment, please. I’m taking a You-Turn.”
This simple practice works well for Ken and me. As a result, instead of experiencing one another’s reaction with the burden of having to figure out what it’s about and how to deal with it, we engage in our own process of reflection. Then we can speak more clearly and lovingly to one another.
As you gain perspective about a part of your soul that has overtaken you, such as one carrying worry, anger, grief, or insecurity, you’ll be able to connect more genuinely with that emotion or belief.
As a result of your self-awareness, you’ll find you communicate more effectively with others too. And loving communication is just one of the many ways that caring for your soul helps you spread the love of Christ to those around you.
Whenever you face tension in your marriage – or within any close relationship for that matter – you can take a You-Turn to gain clarity and perspective and improve your ability to communicate effectively.
A You-Turn is the process of looking within to bring overwhelming parts of your soul under the leadership of your Holy Spirit-led self.
Taking a You-Turn helps you speak with intentionality and care instead of reacting to or avoiding a difficult situation. It also helps you move from seeing your thoughts and feelings as the problem to seeing them as part of the solution.
The Five Steps of Taking a You-Turn are:
Step 1: Focus on an overwhelming part of yourself.
Step 2: Befriend this part you don’t like.
Step 3: Invite Jesus to draw near.
Step 4: Unburden this weary part.
Step 5: Integrate it into your internal landscape.
Every day—in my personal life and the lives of my clients—I see the benefits of using The 5 Steps of Taking a You-Turn.
And I’m confident that you will, too, when you use this method.
As we begin 2019, you can turn your overwhelming thoughts and feelings into your greatest allies and become the most peaceful person you know.
Welcome to the New Year . . . and new you!
Kimberly J. Miller, MTh, LMFT, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in helping leaders avoid burnout. Prior to working as a counselor, she served as a campus minister with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Harvard University and worked with a micro-enterprise organization serving farmers in Central America.
The story she shares today is from her newly released book, Boundaries for Your Soul: How to Turn Your Overwhelming Thoughts and Feelings into Your Greatest Allies, in which Kim shows you how to calm the chaos within. This groundbreaking approach will help you know what to do when you feel overwhelmed; transform your guilt, anxiety, sadness, and fear into strengths; welcome God into the troubling parts of your soul; and move from doubt and conflict to confidence and peace.
Boundaries for Your Soul includes relatable anecdotes, helpful exercises, an engaging quiz, and opportunities for personal reflection. Gathering the wisdom from the authors’ twenty-five years of combined advanced education, biblical studies, and clinical practice, this book will set you on a journey to become the loving, authentic, joyful person you were created to be. I’m telling you, this is truly a phenomenal book – one to slowly read.
[ Our humble thanks to Thomas Nelson for their partnership in today’s devotion ]