What do you do when pressure is building, and all the heavy stress threatens to get the best of you? Where do you turn when you feel like you’re about to blow? How do you gracefully handle life when nearly everything seems to be going wrong?
God seems to be giving me many practical opportunities to apply what I will be speaking about during the upcoming women’s conferences. (I’m assured that these thoughts are from God and not my own ideas when I’m later convicted as I read over my notes!) I’ve decided to give you a personal look into my struggles and what is helping to carry me through.
As I reflect over the last two weeks, my mind is overwhelmed at all the stressful things we’ve faced. It seems like we have again been “hit” on so many sides. But, we are still convinced that God is good, and He’s still in control. We are also aware that we could be facing many worse things than we are now. We are EXTREMELY blessed!
However, I’ve felt more overwhelmed, discouraged, and stressed, in these past few weeks, than I have for a long time. It seemed like the intensity of our stress continued to escalade as the days went along. To begin with, our large freezer gave out, our washer quit working, (again!) our van has been needing extra repairs, and we were struggling financially to know where to turn. During the same time, we realized that our daughter, Alisha, needed to receive treatment for the health issues she’s been struggling with. (These are issues as a result of her heart transplant.)
I’ve also been feeling a lot more tired lately and after getting some tests done, I discovered that my thyroid was again way out of balance. (Everything always looks much worse to us when we’re tired and not feeling the best!) On top of that, my husband started having symptoms that have been very concerning to us. He spent an overnight visit in the hospital, and we are now in the midst of other appointments to see what all may be going on.) With our history of Cardiomyopathy in our children and other family, and after several weeks of these symptoms (low blood pressure, lightheadedness, heart palpitations, etc.) these symptoms are cause for concern. This issue felt like the final blow to me!
As I was crying out to God for answers and direction, He reminded me of what He’s shown us in the past. The importance of taking one day at a time, not allowing fear to control us, or ungratefulness to rob us of our joy today. When we choose to rest in Him and focus on our blessings rather than on our struggles, we can then experience the peace and the grace of God that carries us through every event we face.
We can only be the greatest witness of God’s grace, joy, and peace when we are in the midst of a “storm.” So let’s allow God to use our lives for His glory rather than for our own comfort and ease.
I’ve found there are several things that have helped me to handle the stresses that life brings. They are:
1.) Be real about your feelings.
Find someone who you can share your heart and feelings with. It’s okay to not always be “on top” of things. Sometimes, we are going to struggle. You’re human, after all!
2.) Find an outlet for relieving your body of stress.
I began refinishing our kitchen table and chairs during the last week or so, just to have something else to focus on. I’ve discovered that sanding furniture while talking to God, does wonders for me when I need to vent some of my frustrations and stress. (Who knows how many creative projects I’ll tackle before this is over!) But, whatever it is, find something that helps you. You may find that working out, gardening, baking, or taking a walk in nature works better for you. (And um, ladies, shopping is usually not a good idea for a stress reliever! You want to choose something that won’t cause financial stress later!)
3.) Make sure you are bringing your burdens to Jesus and trusting Him.
Don’t try carrying them on your own. You were never meant to face things alone. Jesus doesn’t always change the storms, but He shows us so many times that He’s in the storms with us, and that He will carry us through. It may help to be able to share our hearts with others, but they should never replace our need to come to our Burden-Bearer.
The other morning, I felt like I desperately needed to talk to someone. (I’m an external processor, so just being able to talk about it usually makes me feel much better.) As I was contemplating which of my many friends I should call, Jesus whispered into my spirit, “Am I not able to handle this? Can they lift your burdens better than I?” I never did make that call, because Jesus reassured me that He was ABLE.
4.) Look for things to make you laugh.
Laughter is truly one of the best medicine for lifting our spirits. An optimistic outlook will not only refresh your life, but also the lives of those around you. No one really appreciates the Eoyore perspective! When your life is filled with many heavy or difficult stresses, it will take more effort, but it’s important to find something to laugh about. (God must see the need for this…Isn’t this why He seems to put at least one “clown” in every family?)
5.) Never underestimate the power of giving thanks.
Thankfulness is a choice! It isn’t the result of your circumstances, contrary to what this world portrays. You don’t have to wait to give thanks until you feel thankful. The act of giving thanks is what produces thankfulness.
What has been helpful to you as you’ve faced stress in your life? How do you handle the mounting pressure that builds up when things continue to go wrong? Are you about to blow…or are you allowing it to make you grow?
~Cindy (For The Mullett Family)