Priority #2 – Emotional Health
Goal Setting & Reflection Date
Saturday, November 10, 2012
Improve my spiritual and emotional health by learning to deal with interpersonal conflict more
constructively (especially with my wife and children).
In October 2012 our family went on a 16-day vacation to Florida including three days at the
ocean, eight days at Disney World, and three days at Universal Orlando. It was the experience of
a lifetime and something I have been dreaming about for years.
I dreamed of going to Disney when my first daughter was born. I didn’t (and still don’t) make a
lot of money and figured I would probably only have the opportunity to do it once so the timing
had to be just right.
I waited until all three of my girls were old enough to not only be able to fully appreciate
everything we were going to do, but also old enough to handle the physical demands of walking
many miles each day through the theme parks.
I informed the family we were going to Disney during Christmas 2011 and spent nearly a year
planning the trip. It was planned out in such detail I knew exactly what we were going to do and
where we were going to eat every day of the trip.
Our vacation was everything I hoped and dreamed it would be. We had 16 days of beautiful
weather. No one got sick (at least not until the very last day when we were traveling home).
Our stamina held up through miles of walking. My family bought into my idea of experiencing
everything we could possibly squeeze into each day. We got up early and stayed out late nearly
every day of the trip.
The story, however, does not end there. While we had an amazing vacation, there were several
difficult moments during the trip – a few of them involving me. Three instances in particular
really stand out and spur feelings of regret when I reflect on them.
On our very first day of travel one of my daughters struggled mightily with behavior during
our three hour drive to the resort. My method of getting her to stop was to yell – loudly. And I
remained angry about the incident well into the evening after we arrived.
On the morning of the second day I learned that Amy had failed to pack my belt. I was upset
because I needed a belt for most of the cool new wardrobe I had purchased for the trip. I blamed
Amy because I had reminded her during packing that I needed a belt and to be sure to pack one.
For most of the day it was very clear to everyone through my words and body language that I
was upset with her.
By the end of the second day I realized if we were going to have any chance at a nice vacation
that I was going to have to get my act together. The trip was stressful enough without dad being
mad the entire time.
I did pretty well until our last day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Things were going well until
about noon when Amy and I started bickering. The bickering turned into an argument and ended
with us leaving early. We missed the afternoon parade, some shows, and some neat attractions.
I was full of regret.
Some Disney veterans may be quick to explain away or excuse my behavior. They know that
Disney is a stressful place. Despite the magic and the fun, Disney is also a place that pushes
people to sensory overload. There is so much to do, taste, see, and experience that it is often
overwhelming. It was not uncommon walking through the parks to view children in the middle
of meltdowns and their parents melting down right along with them.
But the problem I had was not one of Disney overload. It was clear to me these were deep
character flaws I brought to Disney with me. Especially at home, when faced with conflict, my
instinct is to respond with anger, blame, or criticism.
Since returning home it has been my absolute priority to be purposeful and constructive in
dealing with conflict.
I will no longer be a lazy parent who yells at my children because I can’t be bothered to stop
what I’m doing to engage in some actual parenting.
Most disappointing when it comes to my children is their inability to work through problems
with each other through dialogue and communication. But this inability to resolve conflict exists
because I have been too lazy to model or teach them how to do so. It takes time and energy
when they are fighting to get them talking and listening to one another. It is much easier to send
them to their rooms and yell a bit for them to knock it off.
But I am done with the yelling. I will invest the time needed into the lives of my children to
model and teach them how to resolve conflict.
I will also no longer be the lazy husband who is critical or mean when something bothers me.
I am done with having a critical spirit that points out mistakes and faults. I am going to view
disappointments as an opportunity to respond rightly. I am going view conflict with Amy as an
opportunity to talk, listen, and problem solve.
And beyond my family, I intend to change these areas of my life in all of my relationships.
I will not be perfect in these areas. I know I will make mistakes and often fail. But I also don’t
believe God would reveal these things for me to continue in them. God’s desire is to mold me
into the image of His Son. And this is the next small step in that journey.
On Thanksgiving I am thankful for a God that does not leave me powerless. I am thankful for
a God who gives a lost sinner like me not only the future promise of eternal life, but also the
present capacity of a changed heart and a transformed life through the power of His Holy Spirit.
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