In Life, We Experience What We Tolerate. Think about that for a few moments. Where are the stress-ers in your life? Are you getting stressed out about things (people) that you know you need to confront but you are choosing not to? You are experiencing a stressed-out life because of what you are choosing to tolerate. In reality, you have no one to blame but yourself.
I remember some time ago I didn’t like where I was in life, I was in a little bit of a depressed state. As I started to think about it I realized I was not happy with the relationships in my life (how they were going). I realized most, if not all, of the stress in my life was caused by the relationships in my life and how I was (NOT) dealing with them. I was allowing the stress. Consider this verse:
Matthew 7:16-20 (NASB95)
“You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits.
My life was producing “Bad” fruit (I was depressed). And what’s more, I allowed the bad fruit because I was not taking control of the relationships.
Proverbs 25:28 (NASB95)
Like a city that is broken into and without walls Is a man who has no control over his spirit.
WE EXPERIENCE WHAT WE TOLERATE
Take a look at your life right now… where are the stress-ers at? Are they relational based? What are you doing to relieve the stress? Here are a few things that most of us in one way or another have tried to use to deal with stress but it just doesn’t work:
- Ignore it – this only causes you to go deeper into depression
- Medicate it – we can try to eat it away, drink it away, sleep it away, drug it away, I personally used pornography to deal with the unresolved stress (that didn’t work). In fact all the options I listed and many more only cause significantly worse issues in your own life.
- Worry about it – what do we tend to worry about? We tend to worry about things beyond our control, things we have no power to change. When we get into the worry trap we spend large amounts of mental energy fretting over problems that are out of our control. When we start to worry about relational stress it will usually lead to bitterness about that person or group of people.
Skills Of Adulthood
What are the skills we need to learn to get to a better relational, emotional, and mental state? There are several skills that we have the authority and power to use to create some positive change in our life.
- Authority – We have been given all the authority we need to take care of the relational stress in our life. However, it will require us to put on our “big-boy” pants and start having “adult” conversations with others. When I have relational stress in my life I cannot wait for the other person to come and make my life “happy”. It is not their responsibility to make me happy. Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. If I refuse to confront/take authority for how I am feeling then I have no one to blame for it but myself (I will reap what I sow).
- Self-Aware – Here is a huge key to this entire issue, become self-aware. Instead of reflecting on how others are treating you (something that is out of your control) reflect on how you are interacting with others. Here’s an example: A few weeks ago I changed how we do our daily 5-min. team meeting. I didn’t communicate why we made the changes, I just changed things. I did this for several weeks until earlier this week when I finally shared why I changed things and I asked the staff how they viewed the changes. And this is when I took a huge growth step – one team member shared with me they finally realized why I seemed very short or to the point. Now, here’s the point, that team member shared with me how I was coming across in team meetings (and I didn’t even realize it). When I finally shared why I made changes they were able to understand why I seemed short with people (almost uncaring). Here’s the key – I needed to become self-aware about how I was interacting with others. Psalms 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; 24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.
- Gather Feedback – Feedback goes right along with being self-aware. Feedback is critical in our adulthood because it demonstrates we are teachable and that we believe the feedback we get will be for our best interest (when we ask for the feedback we demonstrate a humble/teachable spirit – this is an aspect of adult character). No one likes a “Know-It-All” and when we don’t allow others to give us feedback on our life we tend to come off as a “Know-it-all”. Think about this, how do you treat the “know-it-alls” in your life? DON’T BE A KNOW-IT-ALL, get feedback from others.
- Own Your Part – When you have gathered information about how/who you are from your self-awareness and feedback projects go back to people you have a conflict with and own your part. Apologize for your bad attitude, for your part of taking things too personally, for being moody, grumpy, or bitter. Apologize for being “toxic” in the relationship. This is called humility and more times than not it will actually draw people to you and you will get the acceptance that your heart is seeking. James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
- Confront/Clarify – This is the log-splinter principle of the Bible (Remover the log from your eye before you remove the splinter from someone else’s eye). Matthew 7:3-5 “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Tell the other person how their behavior has been interpreted by you. Best case scenario, they were unaware of their negativity or toxic behavior and will make it right. After all, you just modeled it for them. The other scenario might go like this, they give some insincere apology or make excuses for their behavior. But remember this, when you confronted – you take control and place a boundary around your heart. Matthew 7:12 “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
Remember, YOU EXPERIENCE WHAT YOU TOLERATE IN LIFE. Start developing these Adult Character skills and watch the stress in your life start to subside.