Practical Ways to Navigate a Hyper-Anxious World: Conclusion (Part 6)

Learn about the Act Model and be encouraged in Christ in part 6 of our 6-part article series.
6 min read

Editor’s Note: This is part 6 of a 6-part article series. You can navigate to the other available articles at the bottom of this one.

To wrap up this series, I’m going to give you something that I use for myself. I use it with leaders. I use it with children. It crosses the board. It’s the ACT Model from Dr. Gary Landreth. It actually comes from play therapy model for trauma survivors.

The ACT Model goes like this:

  1. Acknowledged the emotion.
  2. Communicate the limit.
  3. Target alternatives.

When you don’t know what else to do, and you’re just sitting there empathizing, make sure you don’t give a bunch of here’s what God’s going to do. Or here’s some ideas for you. Instead, start with acknowledging the emotion.

Practice with your spouse, practice with your own kids, and acknowledge that they’re overwhelmed or they’re disappointed.

Acknowledge what was said or felt, give your limit, and offer alternatives.

Then communicate the limit. For example, it sounded like this with my daughter the other day, who is doing online school with her school. And she comes home and says, I think I want to homeschool. I said, well, yeah, we’re not going to be doing that. But in my mind, I’m thinking, ah, there’s a lot more going on. So, I acknowledged to her that she didn’t like the online school.

And then I communicated the limit: We’re not going to do homeschool. And moved to target alternatives. Let’s figure out some other options while you’re doing online school that will help you have some outlets.

Don’t Shut Down Emotion

There’s this idea of shutting down emotions that is very normal and natural for all of us. We don’t like pain. And, so, this model helps hold me accountable. And hopefully it’ll help you hold yourself accountable too before simply react—especially as a lot is being asked of you in this time.

Acknowledge what was said or felt, give your limit, and offer alternatives.

When we feel out of control, or we feel boxed in like we have no power, God shepherds us in a way that says, I’ve got other things for you. You can’t do that, but you can do this. And it breathes life—even in the midst of all that we’re going through.

More Human than Ever

woman-working-home-laundry
Image Credit: Charles Deluvio/Unsplash

It’s an anxious world and an anxious time right now. I’m overwhelmed on a daily basis. And yet I use these tools (and those in the other articles). I use these tools with God, with my community, with my kids, and with my husband.

And these tools help us to not feel so alone in this isolated world, we don’t have our same rhythms. Finding some new rhythms, finding some things that can help you to calm down your mind and your body are really the essentials needed in this time.

We’ve learned from neuroscience and the research on trauma that these tools work.

Recognize that this global pandemic is hitting us on so many levels. Have grace for yourself and for others. I mean, seriously, His grace is sufficient for all of our weaknesses, but it doesn’t mean that we’re going to be able to be superheroes right now.

In fact, I think it means we’re going to be more human than ever before.

And just to be able to accept that is really a miracle in itself for many leaders. So give yourself some grace and give parents some grace. Help them to recognize that they are doing the best they can, and their little kids honestly are doing the best that they can as well.

The expectations we have are so high.

His grace is sufficient for all of our weaknesses, but it doesn’t mean that we’re going to be able to be superheroes right now.

In fact, I think it means we’re going to be more human than ever before.

Jesus Gets It

Now, one of the things I love about Jesus is that He’s so direct. But there’s a gentle and humble spirit that we know from Matthew 11 and throughout the Scriptures.

Well, in the midst of the disciples out on the water, Jesus shows up. He’s just fed the 5,000, He’s done all these miracles, and His disciples have watched this with their own eyes.

And yet when they go out in the boat, they start to panic when the wind start blowing. And then Jesus comes out across the water and they are stunned. Yes, they are stunned. Why? Because they forgot. They forgot who they followed and what Jesus is capable of. And Jesus says to them, Take courage. It is, I. Don’t be afraid.

I love this because I literally have to meditate all the time, take courage. In my mind, I’m saying, Jesus help me take courage to hold onto You.

There is so much that is blowing us around. But Jesus says, I’m the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Even though the winds are blowing pretty hard here right now, I’m still the same Jesus. And it’s up to you take courage to take a step outside and to smell the goodness of the air.

You Need to Smell the Roses

He’s with us. He’s with you, our good shepherd. He’s with you. And He has put you in the role you’re in for such a time as this.

Even in the midst of a world pandemic, some of us feel survivor guilt. We think: There’s people suffering all over. I can’t—I don’t deserve to smell the goodness of the roses. And yet, you need to smell the roses so that you can shepherd and care for those around you.

And remember that Jesus’ don’t be afraid isn’t shaming you. It’s gentle and humble. It’s Him saying I’m with you.

He’s with us. He’s with you, our good shepherd. He’s with you. And He has put you in the role you’re in for such a time as this, to care for these parents and these children.

Take that as awareness right now, a good shepherd, a healthy leader is aware. The only difference between an unhealthy leader and a healthy leader is they’re more aware and they’re willing to ask for help from their God and others.

A Prayer for You, Good Shepherd

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Image Credit: Hannah Busing/Unsplash

Lord. I am so grateful for these shepherds, for the call that You have on their lives and the places You have them for such a time as this. They’re weary, and they’re tired. And Lord, it is You who have created us—who made us mind, body, heart, and soul. You’ve made us for relationship. I pray that these leaders would not stay isolated, but that they would care for themselves.

Lord, You’ve taught me that we cannot give away what we have not received. So, let them feel Your love and not just in their heads, but in the fullness of their bodies—that they would take courage and take steps to lean into You, to care for their own humanity so that they can care for those in their wake.

And help them teach parents to do the same with their own children in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.

Articles in this Series

Webinar-Parenting-in-an-Anxious-World

Supporting Families in an Anxious World: Professional Guidance for Children’s Ministry Leaders

This webinar is designed to help you navigate being a shepherd to parents who are facing some of the most overwhelming traumas of our times.
Webinar-Parenting-in-an-Anxious-World

Supporting Families in an Anxious World: Professional Guidance for Children’s Ministry Leaders

This webinar is designed to help you navigate being a shepherd to parents who are facing some of the most overwhelming traumas of our times.
Webinar-Parenting-in-an-Anxious-World

Supporting Families in an Anxious World: Professional Guidance for Children’s Ministry Leaders

This webinar is designed to help you navigate being a shepherd to parents who are facing some of the most overwhelming traumas of our times.
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  Updated on October 28, 2020

About the Author

  • Terra A. Mattson, MA, LMFT, LPC, and her husband, Jeff, are raising their two daughters just outside of Portland, Oregon. They are the founders of Courageous Girls and the counseling and organizational-development firm Living Wholehearted. Terra is a licensed marriage and family therapist who has helped thousands of women at every stage of the journey over the past two decades. She is the author of Courageous: Being Daughters Rooted in Grace. Learn more at Living Wholehearted and My Courageous Girls

  • Your Ministry Spark Team is made of ministry volunteers, leaders, and experts who work with David C Cook. We’re passionate about helping others know, love, and follow Jesus. And, we have a big heart for those who serve the kingdom—that’s you. Together, we can do this!

© 2020 David C Cook. All rights reserved.
© 2019 David C Cook. All rights reserved.
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