Steward Your Emotional Health By Eliminating These Three Things
Author: Bo Stern | www.sheology.co | @bosternbrady
When we talk in Christendom about “stewarding resources”, it’s usually code for “I’m about to hear a message on tithing.”
But, nope. Not here at She.ology. We want to talk through the month of August about stewarding ALL our resources - not just money. One of the most important resources we have is our emotional health, but I haven’t found Christians to be great about acknowledging that. Prioritizing my emotional strength and security has been the focus of my life over the past few years and I have MANY thoughts and opinions about how we can do better at this - but for today, I just want to start with three things I think everyone needs to reduce or eliminate in order to steward emotional health.
1. The fast forward button in your brain.
We all have one. The switch that flips and alerts us to everything that could possibly go wrong in the next ten seconds or ten days or ten years. It flips fast and hard or slow and steady but it catches us all imagining the worst in many scenarios. For me, it can be small - like I worry on the way to a restaurant that there won’t be a seat available - or big - like worrying about a simple headache being a terminal brain tumor. Though the size of the worries differ, one thing is the same: They are pushing me outside the present moment and into a moment I haven’t yet lived. One of the best decisions I’ve made in the past year or so is to choose this sentence as my little word-bullet when I start to race ahead to the future: I will be okay. I’ve lived long enough and experienced enough sorrow that I know better than to promise myself everything will turn out okay. But I’ve also lived long enough to know that I will be okay, no matter what. Even in death, I will be okay. This helps me short circuit that fast forward button and live more securely in the present moment.
2. Relationships that always empty you.
When I was in college, a good friend of mine came and asked me to go for a walk with him. We were in bible college so this sort of romantic set-up made me worried that he was about to ask me on a date and, while I liked him, I did not want to date him. I shouldn’t have worried. Instead of professing his undying love for me, he said, “I was wondering if you realize that you’re negative ALL the time. Even when everyone else is being positive about something, you choose the negative side and, frankly, it’s exhausting to be around. I really like you and I want to be your friend, but I can’t if you don’t try harder to be happy.” Ouch. It hurt like crazy to hear it, but it was true and it was exactly what I needed. I thanked him and …changed. I really, really worked on it because I knew he was right and I knew he meant it: I was going to lose relationships if I didn’t grow up and broaden my perspective. I had no idea how much inner turmoil my friend was dealing with at the time, but I know now and I deeply respect him for guarding his draining emotional reserves by being willing to let go of relationships that exhausted him, even if that relationship was with me. I’m also so grateful that someone loved me enough (and my future husband and children and friends) to help me grow.
3. Old and antiquated expectations.
Your grandma wanted you to get married and have kids. Your gym teacher wanted you to be a decathlete. Your culture wants you to be a size 2. Your mom wants you to be more ladylike or dress more demurely or get rid of that tattoo. Everyone has expectations and they’re often pretty noisy in the way they share them. But they are not you and they do not get to determine who you will become. Carrying around the weight of other people’s old expectations is heavy and frustrating and depleting. But you know what is even heavier? Carrying around the old expectations of you. Maybe YOU expect you to be a size 2 or a decathlete or a happy wife and you are struggling to reconcile the life you have with the life you thought you’d have. I get it. But now is the moment for now and you are the only one who can either change who you have become or change the way you hold your old ideals over your own head. It’s all up to you, but you’re going to need some healthy emotional strength for the road ahead, so give yourself permission to drop the old baggage and start right now and right here.