Tense Talk with Lysa Terkeurst

How to share your emotional capacity

In a society riviting from discord and disagreement, many people find it challenging to navigate contentious conversations, especially within the family sphere. Lysa Terkeurst, a renowned author and speaker, recently shed light on this issue during her encouraging interview on Family Life Radio.

“Emotional capacity” serves as the cornerstone of Lysa’s perspective. Proverbs 25:28 says, “A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls” (NLT). Understanding your emotional capacity and respecting it is integral to self-control. “Where is our emotional capacity, which means where are my emotions?” Lysa presented.

To explain this, Lysa spun the hypothetical tale of “Uncle Fred” — a lovable family member known for instigating divisive political debates at the dinner table. “Uncle Fred a lot of times loves to stir up energy at the dinner table because he likes to bring up politically divisive topics that he’s been studying,” she explained. The disruption Uncle Fred causes can be discomforting, especially when one’s emotional capacity is not at a place to handle the ensuing tension.

Managing Contentious Conversations

Piloting such conversations needn’t be an insurmountable task. First, Lysa recommends acknowledging the other person’s passion while expressing your emotional constraints. Lysa suggests calling Uncle Fred and saying something like: “One thing that I appreciate about you is when you believe in something, you really believe in it. And right now, I don’t have the emotional capacity to appropriately handle political conversations around the dinner table.”

Following this, she suggests defining a personal protocol for maintaining self-control and letting Uncle Fred know what that protocol will be. “I’m requesting that you not bring up those politically divisive conversations. But if you choose to do so, I’m going to go ahead and let you know what my protocol is going to be … I will turn to the other end of the table and have a different conversation and participate in a different subject matter. Or I’ll just quietly, without making a scene, push back from the dinner table, go in the kitchen, take care of a few things until the conversation settles down, and then I’ll rejoin the dinner table again.”

The art of setting boundaries is crucial. “It’s not a sign that I don’t respect you and I don’t love you. This is a sign that I’m attempting to remain self-controlled,” Lysa asserted. It is not about controlling others but self-management.

Just like the boundary wall of a city guards it, your personal boundaries protect you.

As we navigate our way through a world brimming with differences of opinion, strategies like the ones shared by Lysa offer flight plan to pilot these emotionally charged conversations. They reinforce the value of recognizing and respecting our emotional capacity, setting personal boundaries and exercising self-control.

Proverbs 16:32 says, “Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city” (NLT). Remember, self-control is not a sign of weakness or disrespect; instead, it’s an indicator of strength and maturity.

Boundaries are Mutually Beneficial

Incorporating such wisdom into your daily life not only alleviate the emotional strain often associated with confrontational conversations, but it also cultivates an environment of understanding and respect within your relationships.

The narrative of ‘Uncle Fred’ further underscores the necessity of emotional resilience, particularly in this era where political polarization is prevalent. It is an invaluable skill that safeguards our emotional health and fortifies our relationships.

Piloting such conversations effectively isn’t about suppressing emotions or avoiding conflict entirely.

It’s about fostering an atmosphere where differences can coexist without detriment to our emotional wellbeing.

Lysa states, “This is a sign that I’m attempting to remain self-controlled, which is going to benefit all of us.”

This approach doesn’t guarantee the absence of conflict. Still, it does equip us with the tools to navigate difficult situations more effectively, allowing us to embody the peace and patience called for in Colossians 3:12, “As holy people whom God has chosen and loved, be sympathetic, kind, humble, gentle, and patient” (GW).

Lysa provides us with more than just practical advice; it offers hope. Her strategies demonstrate that even in the face of heated disagreements, we can maintain our poise and grace. They remind us that our emotional capacity isn’t fixed but can be cultivated and expanded with wisdom and intentionality.

Our world needs more of such balanced and wise approaches, to create a space where diverse views can coexist peacefully.

Want more? Check out our on demand resources

Family Life Radio is listener supported. Those who listen give to make the music and content possible to shine God’s love, peace and encouragement into hearts, revealing truths that direct people in the way they should go.

If you feel led to give a gift today to help others draw strength, gain wisdom and experience peace through Family Life Radio click here.