Building Emotional Stability

Olive Picking at a Friends Grove 2017

“The difference between where you are and where you could be is the pain you are unwilling to endure.” ~Craig Groeschel

Recently, I listened to Craig Groeschel’s leadership podcast with guest Lysa Turkhurst, who used the metaphor of an olive tree to describe how to build emotional endurance.  Check out the metaphore;

Grow your emotional endurance Lysa TerKeurst’s reflections on the olive tree lessons.

  1. The olive tree won’t reproduce fruit unless it experiences the harsh winds from the east as well as the refreshing winds from the west. As people, we have to go through both hard times and good times to be fruitful we will not learn the secrets of steadfastness if we don’t have both.
  2. Once the tree produces fruit, that fruit is still not useful unless it gets rid of its hardness. We have to become soft (humble) during hard times in order to learn from those times
  3. The fruit is not the most valuable thing, but when the fruit is hard pressed the value is the precious oil comes out, which can be compared to the light that is pressed out from us as we allow the hard times to mold us.

TerKeurst, closed this visual by encouraging us to “become someone of perspective instead of bitterness by running into pain instead of avoiding it.”

Pain. Discouragement. Disappointment. Delay. Loneliness. Joy. Celebration. Community. Growth. Success. We all experience these things at various times and to varying degrees in our life. And what we do with these experiences is the key to developing our emotional health.

I remember about 6 years ago, I was taking my son to school with a heavy overwhelming feeling deep within me. It wasn’t until I allowed audible words to vacate my mouth, that I realized the deep pain I was feeling was loneliness.

Instead of running from that awareness, I ran full long into it! I dug deep to understand why I felt this way, and what I could do about it. Of course, I blamed my circumstances, and people for my loneliness. I wanted to cry like a baby (well actually I did) but I wanted to do it in a way that put the onus on others to help me out of. I didn’t want to face the fact that it was my job to find a way to not be lonely.

Ready for processing 2017 by Kristin Lawrence

If I didn’t allow myself to experience the harsh winds of loneliness, that story may still be directing me to be lonely today. But I did the hard work to get through it and became soft. I stepped out of my comfort zone and joined groups that I normally wouldn’t have. I pressed into God even more, knowing that He supports me and knows me deeply. I was real with my husband and asked if he would give more of himself to me, just for a while so I can heal from this dry painful place.

As I began to connect with others, hear about their life and share mine, that loneliness was pressed out of me. I came out on the other side, able to shine and it felt good. Was it easy? Nope! It was awkward. I was totally out of my element. But if I wasn’t willing to experience these things, I would not have seen that the stories I was telling myself were not helpful and untrue.

Photo by Roberta Sorge on Unsplash

But what is most important is that allowing myself to stay in that season of pain, uncertainty, and loneliness gave me the experience to know what to do faster and more effectively when loneliness (or even other pains) come knocking at my door again.

The variables may look different for you, instead of lonely you may be bitter, sad, delayed but the principles are the same.

  1. The become aware & verbalize what the pain is.
  2. Start running into it
  3. Endure the pain until you are able to get a hold of it
  4. Become a person of perspective so that you can start acting in a way that moves you out of the pain
  5. Reflect & Learn from the experience so that when pain rises again you will be more Emotionally Stable to stand against it

The above can be used as a starting point next time you are in a weird, painful place. My hope is that it will help you run through the pain instead of away from it.

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