Half-smiling and Willing Hands

Half-smiling is a kind of a trick for your mind, like it’s harder to be angry when you’re smiling. And Half smiling gives me a posture of joy when my inner being is feeling despair. An open posture, chest out and hands open, is often used in Yoga and meditation. DBT (Dialectic Behavior Therapy) calls this Wiling Hands.

It’s an attitude adjustment. Gratitude. Grace + Attitude = Gratitude

When my parents were middle aged they began to frequent a Pentecostal church. At the time, I was newly married and pregnant with my son, Tyler, so I really didn’t have anything better to do on Sunday nights, what with my friends being partiers and all, so I joined them at the worship service.

Wow! People were holding up their hands in praise during worship songs that seemed to go on forever. At this church there was new music that would compel you to just “be” in the presence of God. Some people just bent their elbows at their sides and cupped their hands up to receive and give blessings and praise.

I connected this memory to the DBT Distress Tolerance skill of “Half-smiling with Willing Hands.” The process is to relax your face, let both corners of your mouth go slightly upward, and adopt a serene facial expression. Drop your arms to your sides, bent slightly at the elbows and unclench your hands turning your palms up with your fingers relaxed. This posture is very close to the congregants at my mom’s church, heads bent upward smiling with open hands at sides, facing Heaven.

I’m not able to lay on the ground next to the physical being of Jesus like Mack did (see last post), but I can raise my tulip face to heaven and let Him light it up! I would smile if that happened, so it comes easily to think of that and get my face in the Half-smiling position. The willing hands comes so easily to me in this pose. I want His hands in mine and I readily make mine available. Then, I just bask in it. In His Glory.

In DBT this practice is used when you realize and accept that you are in a situation that you cannot change, like my feelings of regret. In my daily life, as God brings me closer to him, I often read something in His Word that makes me break out into a smile. I call these thoughts up as I get into my Half-smiling posture.

“Have faith in Him in all circumstances
Dear people.
Open up your heart to Him;
The true God shelters us in His arms.” -Psalm 62:8 VOICE

Regret is an emotion that I don’t want to keep around but it’s tough to eradicate. I’m reminded of my Mom’s own battle with regret. Before she passed, I got a very small peek into her heart when she was in Hospice. One day a Psychologist came to see her and knowing how important this was in the dying process, I tried to offer her some privacy by excusing myself into her bedroom as they spoke. I wasn’t listening in, but my Mom’s apartment was small, and I heard the doctor ask my Mom if she had any regrets. My Mom answered that she regretted she could never please her dad.

I was astounded! My Mom was 82 years old and her dad passed decades before. Could she really still have regrets about that? It was quite a learning for me to realize there are some things that stick. Negative things can stay a part of our inner monologue for a very long time, even for our whole lives. These are things that may not be able to be changed. Certainly, in my Mom’s case, those events from her childhood could not be re-lived. Oh, how I wish I could have taken that feeling away from her!

I guess right now what I am doing to help me with my regrets is to focus on Tyler in Heaven knowing how much I loved him. The facts are clear, I made certain decisions and I can’t go back and change them. Refusing to accept that will only keep the guilt fresh. And by re-reading what I’ve written I see a lot of “what ifs” and “If only’s.


This clues me into the idea that I may be making a lot of assumptions about how Tyler saw everything.

If I had changed the timing of my move, I probably wouldn’t be where I am right now. The girls’ lives would be different, I would be different, my husband’s life would be different and I won’t assume to believe that means better. God tell us that we are where we should be. He attends to our pain and he walks it with us. I need to be willing to allow him to heal my regret. I wonder if a part of me really doesn’t want to let it go? I can see that a long term project for me might be digging into that with my therapist.

“I will give you back your health and heal your wounds,” says the Lord.
Jeremiah 30:17 NLT

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