I was watching my nieces recently while my brother and his wife went on vacation, and I experienced something amazing.
When the three-year-old got frustrated, angry, or sad, she would scream and then run to her room. She knew what she’d done wasn’t acceptable, but she didn’t want to follow my guidance. Instead, she ran away.
I would let her go and give her time to calm down before I went to her room to check on her. I resisted the normal adult response of berating her, correcting her behavior, and insisting she obey. Instead, I asked, “What happened? What are you feeling?”
“I’m mad,” she answered. “And I feel sad.”
I asked if I could sit down and hold her. With her face downcast, she said yes. I gathered her into my arms and, with a hug, said, “It’s okay. I understand how you feel, and I love you.” Then we cuddled until she was calm again. Only then did she have the heart and ability to hear and respond to my correction.
Whether you’re dealing with a child or an adult, it’s not easy to extend empathy and accept someone who’s deliberately acting out or who isn’t where we think they should be. As a trauma-informed care counselor and coach—and frankly, someone who has often needed correction herself—I’ve learned that it’s better to make connections before attempting to bring correction.
Acknowledging the emotions a person is experiencing brings peace into the situation and helps them listen and follow instructions more easily. Instead of feeling judged and condemned, they feel seen, heard, and loved.
I learned this model from my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Throughout the Bible, we see Him connecting with people on a heart level before correcting them.
There is a profound power in being present with a person, regardless of their response. Showing true concern and care can be life-changing as it creates a calming, divine alignment with the spirit and soul.
In this life, we’ll all have trouble. We’ll make mistakes and want to run off, hide, and express our frustration, often inappropriately. I thank God for His mercy and grace. He comes into our situations with love and invites us to come close. He holds us and listens, then shares the wisdom and comfort we need. His gentle approach allows easy correction that enables us to face hard things.
Jesus didn’t yell out correction. He didn’t condemn or call people names to bring about changed behavior. He never forced anyone to do what He wanted. He communed with people so they could spring back to life.
Jesus was never surprised by or afraid of a person’s inner experience either. He entered into it, just like He does today. His presence calms our souls and helps us face whatever challenges are before us.
That’s the Jesus who loves us, who lives inside us, and who gives us unlimited access to Him, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. He is the Good Shepherd who connects with us by showing empathy, unconditional love, and constant care.
If you’re running from conflict and hiding in frustration, stop. Give Jesus a minute…or better yet, ten. Let Him sit with you awhile and hold you. Let Him bring peace and speak truth to your inner being. You’ll experience the power of His presence and find the comfort and strength your weary soul desires.
God will never reject, abandon, disappoint, or leave you alone to struggle with your emotions. He is with you always, ready to help and uphold you (Isaiah 41:10). He is the anchor for your soul (Hebrews 6:19). Just call out His name (Psalm 124:8; Acts 2:21).
Jesus’s last words to His disciples before He died and ascended into heaven were “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20 NIV). His promise is also for you and me. Jesus knows the challenges we face, the twists and turns, ups and downs, gains and losses. His presence is what enables us to endure it all.