Stressed Out? Help is Close By!
Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P.
The cell phone is ringing, the kids are hungry, the microwave is beeping and the cat has to go out - and it's only 8 a.m. Sound familiar? This kind of day can cause stress and confusion that leave us feeling as if we have no escape.
With the everyday frustrations of living, commuting to and from work, dealing with cranky co-workers, raising children, and then trying to find time to spend with God in a peaceful setting, many of us are finding it harder to cope and find escape from the vicious cycle of our stress-filled lives. More and more often we are asking ourselves, "Will I ever find relief from life's stress?"
Stress relief methods are as many and varied as the stress triggers that target us each day. We too often turn to the doctor for a quick fix from stress. The use of anti-depressants is at an all time high. Some of us turn to other places for relief - the refrigerator, shopping, the internet - anything to escape the stresses of every day life. These temporary fixes often only add to our stress.
Why is it so difficult to cope? I believe our own modern society is to blame for much of our stress. For example, in days past, our commute from work may have been a time to unwind, reflect on the day and prepare us for our evening. Today we may have a telephone in our ear 24 hours a day. Now our drive home is consumed with catching up on voicemails or continuing business talks. Instead of using that time to relax and de-stress, we are adding to the stress and confusion.
For many of us, instead of loving thy neighbor as God's Word teaches, we find that we don't even know our neighbors or we have become experts at ignoring them. Senior citizens are forgotten, and the young are criticized. We allow the media to form our opinions of our neighbors rather than our taking time to actually get to know the people in our communities. We have become distrustful and critical of everyone. Our stress builds and we wonder why.
In a nation built on Christian principles, we would think stress would be non-existent or at least easily dealt with. As Christians, our relief should come from the Word of God. Our faith in God should (and can) be the answer to all our stress. Sadly, Christians are as stressed as much as non-Christians in most communities. I feel we Christians respond the way we do for several reasons:
- We are pressured by a world that looks at us and expects us to live a pure, blemish-free life.
- We struggle to raise our children in a society that is unstable and where anything and everything goes. We have less control over what our children are seeing and learning.
- Christian couples struggle with keeping their marriages and families together because worldly influences constantly attack us.
- We have more information coming at us each day than our grandparents did when they were young - we are constantly distracted as we process thoughts and ideas.
Could it be God has a purpose for all the stress and trials of our lives? Let's see what His Word says about it.
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting.
James 1:2-6 (NKJV)
And Jesus said,
"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
John 16:33 (NKJV)
The most effective tool to overcoming the stresses of life is accessible to Christians and non-Christian alike. Inside the pages of the Bible are the answers to all of the challenges we face each day. From managing our individual lives to interacting with the people God has placed in our lives, God gives us the means to solve our problems and live in peace.
God is not a God of confusion but a God of peace.
I Cor 14:33 (NCV)
Bible Principles to Overcoming Stress
So, how do we overcome the stress of daily life? We can take a few biblical steps to lead us to a less stressful and more peaceful life.
- Free Up Time for God: Every day you must have some quiet time with God. Schedule time for Him. Put this time in your planner or on your calendar. This time is more essential than any important appointment you may have. Your time with Him should include reading and meditating the Scriptures,worship, and conversation with Him as you pray and wait to hear His response. You will find this time with Him to be the most valuable part of your day.
- Feed Your Soul: Surround yourself with resources and reminders of your priorities in life - those people and principles that motivate you to keep going. A quick glance at a photo of your family or a quick read of an affirming word or Scripture can bring you back "in focus" when the pressure is on. Every day I am reminded of "why I do what I do" by the hand written messages and scriptures from my children that I have around my office.
- Focus on Love: Diligently practice loving your spouse, children, friends and other people God has placed in your life. Be available to listen to their concerns, their victories and their defeats. Share your heart with them. Do things that demonstrate your genuine love for them. I send my children off each day to school reminding them to do three nice things for other people. Look for opportunities to show God's love each day. Studies have proven that hugging someone or petting an animal releases a chemical that makes you feel good, alleviating some stress.
- Find a Support Network: Our success and effectiveness depends to a great extent on our networks of partners in every area of life. Our family should be our central network. Our Christian partners at the local church are the network where our Christian walk is strengthened. Jesus demonstrated the necessity of partnership within a small group among His disciples. Partner networks develop naturally in our business relationships. Through all these groups, we can minister to others and receive their ministry.
We all face stressful situations every day that we would rather not deal with. As Christians, we have an advantage because God is always with us to help us rightly handle the things that come our way and accept what He has in store for us. He never changes, and He is always available to us. He will always provide whatever we need to overcome our stress. As we lean on Him, He will comfort and guide us to His peace in our lives.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful.
John 14:27 (ASV)
by Mardie Caldwell C.O.A.P.
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Founder of Lifetime
Center in 1986, Radio Talk Show Host for Lets
Talk Adoption, Executive Director for Lifetime
Adoption Foundation and Author of AdoptingOnline.com -
Your # 1 Internet Adoption Resource Guide. Mardie has also authored numerous
articles on Christian
adoption, parenting and financing. She is also an adoptive
married with four children. You may reach Mardie at www.MardieCaldwell.com for
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