Stress Takes Over
I just read an e-mail from a friend telling me how stressed she was. This friend generally deals nicely with the stressors in her life without allowing them to overpower her. This time, however, she was expressing much frustration over her stress and suggested that I should write a Mom’s Corner about dealing with stress. I wasn’t sure I was the one to write that article, but I decided to try.
Is there any mom who doesn’t live with occasional feelings of stress? It seems that whether we have little children or older children, whether we homeschool or have our children in another type of school, whether we live in the city or in the country—no matter what, moms have potential stressors in their lives, waiting to raise their ugly heads and strike, stealing our joy and peace.
Stress and Deadlines
My family will tell you that I don’t like deadlines! If anything can cause me to feel stressed, deadlines can. In August, I was faced with a number of back-to-back deadlines starting with preparing for a 2-week vacation. After that we would be home for two days before leaving for our son’s wedding, which would also be the start of a four-week speaking trip. Any one of those three events had the potential for plenty of stress. Add all three together—wheweeeee!
When I give in to stress it changes me, and I feel emotional pressure. If I focus on the stressors, it makes me anxious about the situation. I can become frustrated. Often my attitudes and responses toward my family change.
Where do those stress responses come from? Could they possibly come from a spirit of pride in feeling that everything depends on me? If I don’t do it, it won’t get done. It has to be done, and done my way! If that’s at the root of our reactions, we have to remind ourselves it isn’t true.
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Whatever is stressing me, the Lord assures me that He is in the yoke with me, and that actually makes the burden light. If it feels heavy, then I know it is because I think I am bearing the burden alone.
Stress Comes from Outside Circumstances
Perhaps the stress is coming from circumstances outside of our control. Several years ago, we were in California interacting with our conference coordinator. She was a vivacious, sweet-spirited mom, and I heard her say a number of times, “No worries, no worries.” She seemed to never carry any anxiety or stress.
I believe she was doing what Philippians 4:6 tells us to do. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” “Be careful for nothing” means don’t worry about anything. God tells us right out not to worry, and no worry equates to not being stressed. I do what the Lord would have me do and trust Him for the results.
What does Philippians say is the outcome of not worrying but instead praying and making requests with gratitude? “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). Now that’s the state I want to live in! I desire to have the peace of God that passes understanding keeping my heart and mind through Jesus.
If I am not to be stressed, I have to make a choice. I can allow the stress to fill my mind and build the emotional pressure I am experiencing, or I can do what 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
I believe those feelings of stress are “imaginations,” and negative thoughts are to be taken captive—brought under control. To do that, I choose to pray with thanksgiving, letting God know my concerns. I remind myself that the responsibility isn’t mine alone. For me that takes a conscious effort. I have to stop myself, quiet my mind, refocus on the Lord Jesus, and pray. I need to speak God’s truth to my heart or else I will continue feeling the emotional pressure of the stress. When the feelings come back, I do it again.
During that high-stress time this late summer and fall, I worked hard toward all three goals—vacation, wedding/rehearsal dinner, and a speaking trip. When stress started to sneak into my mind—which it did regularly—I prayed, taking my thoughts captive, turning the responsibility back to the Lord, and trusting Him. Not only did I have the Lord to help me, but I had a whole capable and willing family team as well. There were things I didn’t have to do because they had volunteered for the responsibility.
I even asked my girls to tell me if they could discern the attitude that I have that goes with stress, even if I wasn’t recognizing it myself. I vividly remember one morning when they told me it was okay, and there was nothing to worry about. I knew by those statements, without them actually verbalizing it, that I was in stress mode. I was determined to be a victor over the stress that could bring me down. Rather than pushing aside the conviction and running on in my frenzy, I put a smile on my face (that may be one of the biggest de-stressors), took a deep breath while I prayed, and chose to set aside the worry in my thoughts.
During those weeks, I continually did what I could, was grateful for help, and came back over and over to resting in the Lord and trusting Him to help us bring it all together in time for each deadline. Do you know what? He did!
Do you face stress regularly, if not on a daily basis? Could the solution be so simple? Could I encourage you to not feel alone but to know that Jesus bears the yoke with you? Could I also encourage you to pray and take the negative thoughts captive? No worries!