Definition of Crucible

A situation of severe trial, or a process in which different elements interact, leading to the creation of something new. A physical crucible is used to separate slag from metal to produce pure gold, for instance. Or turn iron into steel. Crucibles are designed to bring purity and strength. No one escapes crucible seasons!

Crucibles in Our Lives

No one escapes emotional crucible seasons. Life brings all of us times of severe trial with elements that interact to create something very new. I’ve had clients who, when I was coaching them to learn better communication or anger management skills, complained, “You’re trying to change who I am!” I always respond, “No, but I am trying to help you be a better version of who you are.”

On my TV show last year I interviewed an ordinary young mom who is now an incredible shaker and mover of legislatures. In Episdode #31, Brandi Coon shared about the crucible of her son’s illness and permanent disability. This life event first led her to find her voice with medical professionals. Then Brandi challenged state laws that prevented parents of disabled children from being paid for the constant care their child required. New laws have been passed in not only her home state of Arizona, but she’s also spoken in front of other states’ legislatures on behalf of parents who are full time caretakers.

More Crucibles: Death, Conflict, Drug Addiction

Gold from a Crucible

The death of my first husband when I was twenty-three with two baby boys definitely led to changes in me. Was it fair that my husband died at such a young age? No, but no one escapes crucible seasons. Yet there were eventually benefits. Independence was required that I may never have experienced had he lived. I also learned to trust my intuition about the intentions of men. I became far more assertive about what was acceptable to me and what wasn’t. Handyman skills were developed that I know I would never have practiced had my husband lived. And I became very proud of myself for learning to repair sprinklers, hang curtain and towel rods, and do all my own painting.

When my marriage to Jim Landrum was failing, we were both in excruciating pain. We suffered for years before finding someone who taught us a few simple, respectful speaking and anger management skills. New skills were the foundation of being transformed into the gold of a loving, peaceful marriage. Our marriage became the inspiration for teaching others and writing the book, “How to Stay Married & Love It!” And eventually led to seven more books and two online courses plus years of privately coaching couples. The crucible of a painful marriage motivated us to become far more respectful, loving human beings.

The fifteen years of my son’s drug addiction was definitely a firely crucible. It was full of pressure and heat that transformed me from a very co-dependent, enabling mom, into one who could set and enforce appropriate boundaries. My book, Pungent Boundaries shares the lessons I derived from that crucible.

We Choose the Result of a Crucible

I’ve not known anyone who escaped some kind of crucible experience in their lives. What we ultimately come out with is our choice. You and I both know people who emerge from a crucible as bitter and permanently angry. And others, like Brandi, who inspire and give us hope. Victor Frankl’s book, “Man’s Search for Meaning” has inspired millions with his report of surviving three years in concentration camps with grace and compassion.

Crucible tranformations are not quick. While in the fire and pressure of a crucible we’re allowed to feel hurt, anger, frustration, resentment and exhaustion. Those emotions are human and need expression. The ultimate result of a crucible experience, however, is determined by thousands of moment by moment choices. Is help sought and found? A life changing message may be miraculously delivered through a book, or a podcast or a quiet conversation with a friend. Trust in God or the Universe may be renewed. Do I, even in the fire, find things for which to be grateful? One small choice at a time, the dross is discarded and the gold emerges.

Types of Gold

For Brandi, gold is a marriage that is thriving in the midst of their crucible. It is also the confidence and influence she has developed as a leader of a tribe of parents who need a voice to represent them. For me the crucibles have led to the fulfillment of my childhood dream of a happy marriage and authoring books to help others have better relationships.

But gold doesn’t have to be so public. It can simply be the gold of quiet peace, or a more empathic acceptance of others in pain. It might be empathy for those you may have judged in the past, or faith so deep that nothing can shake it. Your gold might be the courage to start a new career or complete a masters degree. It might be as simple as being able to sleep soundly and enjoy puttering in your garden.

Are You in a Crucible…

If pain and pressure are what you’re experiencing now, I wish I could give you a big hug! If you’re open to my advice, then I hope you will, first of all, trust your Higher Power to guide you through it. Trust that the help you need will come, the answer you’re seeking will emerge, the next step will become clear. Until then, be kind and patient with yourself. Vent the angry hurt feelings in a safe place, like a journal, therapist or good friend. Crucible times require endurance and endurance requires self-care.

This post reminds me of a scripture, “Weeping may endure for a season, but joy comes in the morning.” -Psalm 30:5 Crucibles are a season. They aren’t forever. Take care of yourself!