Friday, January 31, 2014

Master of Meltdown

Have you ever had a meltdown? You know, one of those moments when the gaskets blew and you were just losing it? Most of us would have to admit that we've melted at least once or twice. But I wonder...why is it that meltdowns are often over trivial things? Many people can recall having had some enormous trials that they endured with the utmost of calm, only to be toppled later by something less than inconsequential. You know what tipped me over and poured me out?

Lost cell phone contacts.


Sadly, yes. I confess that I had a mini-meltdown over the loss of an electronic phone book.

My "ancient" (2-year-old) cell phone kept shutting itself off, showing its senior-status. I keep my phone for a long time because I happen to like knowing how to use it. So, you can understand why I was reluctant to change to the latest technology, which includes things like "swype" and "shake" and "bump." 

"Come on, Old Bessie! Hang in there for just one more conference. You can do it! Don't die on me, pleeeeaaase..."

But it's inevitable. Two years is the pre-programmed date of fritz, and at the two year mark to the month, my cell phone was on life support. As much as I travel, this is not something I can live without, so my Norman H. took me to the phone store for that ritual of buying something I never want: a new phone.

The young salesman assured me that he could move the contacts, but first he had to say this: "Whoa! Old cell phone here!" Since we were changing phone companies as well as phones, I knew we didn't have that seamless transition that usually happens when you're just getting another phone from the same company. I was even more nervous because our daughter had prophesied doom: "Don't do it before you travel, Mom," she warned. "They'll lose your contacts and Dad won't be able to fix that." (Dad can fix most tech problems.)

I tried to listen, but my phone wouldn't work with me. Fritzed without a farewell.

The next thing you know, Salesman Quickdraw McGraw took my old phone, removed the SIM card (the little brain-card that contains the phone book, among other things), did a little of this and some of that and then PRESTO: 

"Your contacts have been moved."



When my new phone burbled (you know, the text message sound) and I saw a message from my daughter's number, I wondered why her name wasn't next to that phone number. Cold shiver of realization: My contacts had only been partially moved. The others were lost forever somewhere in outer space where all things cyber go to rest.

And I was tired. And I was behind schedule. And it was past my bedtime. And I hadn't finished my chores for the day. And I lost the phone number for the person picking me up at the airport the next day...

...So I tipped over and poured out. I chewed my Norman's ear off with questions, wondering how the salesman could do such a thing. How hard was it to move a list of numbers? And he assured us that he could easily do it! Now what was I going to do when I went on the next trip and didn't have key phone numbers? He gets paid to lose things? I can do that all by myself on half the caffeine! Waaa waaa waaaaaaah...

Was it really about the cell phone contacts?

Not really.

It was about being overbooked, under-rested, and frazzled. People tend to have a tipping point. It's that limit where pushing just one more button brings out their "franky" side. "Franky" is a word our son Collin invented. It's a cross between frantic and cranky. Franky Francie doesn't like to be franky, frankly. (Say it fast five times.)

How do we avoid meltdowns? On this side of heaven, it's not possible to go through life without having "one of those days." So instead, we can choose to learn how to settle down. It's an art called "ruling over the spirit," as mentioned in Proverbs 25:28: "He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls." This verse gives hope that it is possible to learn how to have dominion over our sometimes-irrational minds.

Here are some additional verses that show us the real possibility of developing emotional temperance:

Controlling anger: "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city." (Proverbs 16:32) Similar to Proverbs 25:28, the ability to press the pause button before blowing up is a sign of spiritual strength. I wanted to chew my husband out for a transgression he didn't even commit. I had to pound the pause button!

Moderating our tone of voice: "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger." (Proverbs 15:1) A great way to get people yelling is to yell, but it's not a productive form of communication. A soft answer defuses the anger bomb. Norman uses a very soft tone when he is trying to get me to back away from the edge of an emotional cliff.

Budgeting our words: "Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding." (Proverbs 17:28) Similar to Proverbs 10:19, there is such a thing as talking too much. With words, less is enough. If we have been ranting for more than five minutes, we aren't holding our peace; we're disturbing it.

God makes it possible to rule over the unruly spirit that lives within each of us. By His grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can minimize the meltdowns until they are reduced from frequent fires to rare bursts of steam. God is orderly, and He can teach the willing ones to be more like Him. Are we willing, or would we rather keep melting?

It takes thoughtful temperance to keep small matters from becoming big triggers. It also takes alertness to those times when we may be tempted to blow. Overbooked, under-rested and frazzled are like three burners turned on high. Add one more burner, and you could have a meltdown.

"If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small." (Proverbs 24:10)

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