By Jerrica KF Ching
The idea of self-regulation is to regulate one’s self without intervention from external factors, and I for one am often influenced by external factors. It is very easy to respond positively to a positive outcome. Positive outcomes include: when we find out we received that job we were hoping for, when an event we planned in ministry goes well, or when we are recognized for our efforts by others. We smile, we feel relieved, and we feel validated! Life however does not work this way, and God definitely did not create life to always be perfect. So when a negative outcome occurs, I know that I myself often feel rejected, maybe even dejected, and I begin to think, “Why didn’t that work out the way I thought? Is there something wrong with me?”
Self-regulation is something that I am constantly struggling with, and something that I am sure many AAWOL sisters can relate to. As someone who is naturally anxious, I am often anticipating how I will respond to an outcome of a situation. For example, I will often think quite extensively on how I will react if the situation works in my favor, and then how I will react if the situation does not work in my favor. I know I cannot predict the future, however in these moments I feel as though my preparation is being productive, useful, and helping me stay focused. Unfortunately when a less than favorable outcome actually occurs, all of that nerve-wracking preparation ends up for naught, and I wind up in tears, self-deprecating thoughts, and frequent phone calls to my mother. “Preparing for the worst and hoping for the best” is not self-regulation. It is an anxiety-provoking and tedious way of believing that I am in control of my circumstances, and being unable to relinquish that control.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 resonates with me as I reflect on all of the times that didn’t go the way I wanted them to. There is a time for everything, including the times that do not go the way we anticipated. The image that I pair with this verse is of a duck floating above water. When an unexpected wave comes its way, the duck may be paddling along quickly beneath the water, but all we see above is the duck floating along. The duck doesn’t resist the wave either, but does what it needs to do to move with it. The duck responds naturally and never sinks nor does it even seem frightened. The duck is regulating itself as it needs to, depending on the waves, but it never moves before the wave comes. May we all go head into March as these ducks above water, moving when we are moved by God, and knowing that we will not sink in His hands.
Jerrica KF Ching lives in the beautiful state of Washington and works as a Mental Health Primary Care Provider serving children, adolescents, and their families at Columbia Wellness. She graduated with an MA in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling from George Fox University and is working towards becoming a licensed marriage and family therapist. Her research on racial colorblindness has recently been published in The International Journal of Social Science Studies.