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  • Writer's pictureAdrea Tilford

Picture Practice

Philippians 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Before I became a mom, I thought I would be an all-star soccer coach. I even began a Master's program in coaching. My favorite class: Sports Psych.

I remember studying the power of visualization. The story of a young woman whose injury placed her on the bench for the majority of her season. She attended every practice. She sat on the sidelines and she picture herself completing every drill. She visualized every shot making the net swoosh.

When she returned to the court for the end of the season, her free throw percentage increased and her overall performance improved beyond how she played before she was injured. All through spending time in intentional visualization practice.

Our minds are incredibly powerful.

This morning, as I woke and thought about the day ahead: another day with kids at home sick or sort of sick, but not allowed to return to school this imagery idea returned. Not too long ago, a friend of mine mentioned that she was trying to use visualization to help her parenting. She has a child with challenging behaviors and she knows like so many of us do that in order to reach a child in the midst of those behaviors the child needs a parent responding in love rather than reacting in fear.

Here's the problem. Really tough behavior tends to send us into fight, flight, freeze ourselves. We get triggered. We react - yell, scold, lecture, threaten. And our child hears none of it. Often, we make the situation and the behavior worse.

So my friend was going to try to imagine herself in a hard situation with her child and responding the way she hopes to respond. Calm, kind and compassionate. The way she wishes someone might have responded to her when she was young. They way she knows will help her child hear her voice and obey her directives.

On Tuesday, I attended my Cognitive Coaching course. We talked about imagery. Watching an Olympic skier's practice routine and how she uses imagery, we discussed the power of visualization before we enter the room for a coaching conversation, for a team meeting with our teachers or even for a hard conversation with our administrator.

I remembered the days of having my soccer players lie on the grass before our game and follow the imagery prompts I led them through. Though the teenage girls often cracked up at my mystical voice and teased about the words in the script, they also felt success in the way their minds created pathways to new victory.

Seeing what we want to have happen helps our minds build a pathway just as if we had completed the task.

I remembered my conversation with my friend. I thought, why haven't I done this yet?

Last night, my Jesus calling encouraged me to trust that Jesus gives me EVERYTHING I need when I am in challenging terrain.


So in my visualization practice, what might it look like to see me asking God for help in the hard moment?

When the kids are arguing, and hands begin to serve as angry voices. I take a deep breath, "Jesus, take care of everything." I respond in love. Walking to them softly. Sitting on my haunches, eye to eye. Gently asking sister to look at sister. To see a friend. To find a voice. To take a breath. To say a short prayer.

What will my world look like, what will my experience be, if I simply start to see myself leaning on Jesus no matter how difficult the terrain.

Want to try it with me?

[This picture is from Sunday and our ski session that started with some real resistance. After I found myself incredibly frustrated - and cussing under my breath - I took a deep breath and prayed that prayer of surrender. We made it to the mountain. We even ran into some friends that led the resistant child to saying "just one more run." If we don't ski, it's not the end of any world, but it is something I truly love. I even need to invite Jesus into our ski days.]

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Caroline McGlade
Caroline McGlade
Jan 14, 2022

Girl, this is awesome! Definitely invite Jesus into ski days. I like to visualize when there is a behavior pattern with a kid (like I know what’s likely to happen and also how I’m likely to respond) and ask myself and God how I want to show up in that moment. We can retrain our brains—whoa. Isn’t that full of hope and isn’t that our God? Love this Adi!

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