Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Mess of Stress

Stress is a four letter word to me. I try my best to avoid it, prevent it, take a detour around it. When it actually does happen I try not to say it. As if not saying makes me not stressed. I think that's called denial. 

Here's the thing. The last couple of weeks I could see that things in my life were brewing up a perfect storm of stress. So I said it. Out loud a few times. In an email to some friends. I'M STRESSED. But I'm also having conflicting thoughts about embracing stress or banishing it completely. I'm confused on the issue. So here are some fairly random, surely messy thoughts on stress. Any clarity you might have on the issue is welcomed :)

-Admitting I'm stressed or feel stress coming on is helpful. (especially to my dear husband so he can at least mentally prepare for what is to come and maybe even have a chance to run and clothe himself in armor. Sad, but true) But for real, admitting and confiding in others and being supported in prayer is extremely helpful.

-After admitting I'm stressed there's a bit of freedom I feel like I can get carried away with. 
"Well, he/she knows I'm stressed so that totally excuses how I just acted or what came out of my mouth.
I don't want to use it as an excuse. I want to manage stress and work though it appropriately. (Readers- insert advice here ;) 

-I've been pondering if being stressed is, like, sinful. I know that sounds harsh. But I can't help thinking about my stress being rooted in anxiety and lack of trust. If I am faith-filled and really trusting God, would I be stressed out about a situation? Surely all of my deadlines and to-do's wouldn't just vanish, but would I be filled with much more joy and much less tension if I were fully trusting? Ann Voskamp says not to say "I am stressed" but instead, "I am grateful". That is HARD.

-Stress seems selfish. My family now suffers because of how stress can manifest itself in my words, actions, temperament... I walk around thinking, "I'm stressed, I'm stressed, I'm stressed", which basically translates to "Me, Me, Me". I become focused on my stress and how I can make it better and I'm less aware of those around me or what they might be going through themselves.

-Stress takes my already controlling tendencies and puts them on hyper-control. Yikes. While I think it's prudent to plan times to concentrate on things that need to be done, deadlines that need to be met, etc, do I hold those plans with an open hand? Or do I freak out and act like a BABY and get all worked up when my plans that were so carefully thought out fall though? Not that something like that has ever happened. Just a random example... :/ Oh to find the balance of being prudent and responsible yet fulling trusting. I had to remind myself today: God has my back. He is FOR me.

-If I'm stressing about something it is probably because I think I can or should be able to handle something that is ultimately not mine to handle. Let's not flatter yourself here, Sara. God does not need to you to it for Him. He's got this. He might let you, or even ask you to help or join in in some way. But you are not the Savior. Bam. Point taken.


Colleen said...

great thoughts. Is stress sinful? I had to answer this myself. Cuz its super confusing. I think the answer is yes and no.

Jesus was clearly stressed in the garden when he was praying. He was so stressed that he sweat drops of blood. Id say being stressed, the act of FEELING stressed, is not sinful.

Its when it starts to control us, i would say is when it crosses the line. Jesus decided to not let it control his choices or actions. Instead he prayed. And eventually went to the cross, literally.

Im reading from afar, but, you seem to be doing all the right things when it comes to stress :)

You going to the cross, too. Figuratively :)

Martin05 said...

Mmmm... good thoughts Colls. Thanks!

Leslie said...

Is it okay to be vulnerable? To embrace the gift of imperfection? I think it is.

Emotional intelligence tells us that awareness of emotion is the first step in managing reactions. Feelings of stress are natural - we're human - we pile our plates too high. Awareness of feeling stressed is good. What you do with the stress once you're aware of it is what makes the difference.

Sometimes you'll manage your reactions well - sometimes you won't. I've found that the more I'm intentional about awareness the more often I'm able to manage my reactions pretty well. When I don't... I/we have a Savior for that - in Him there is forgiveness. (And husbands too :) PTL :)