If you live in America, the deadline for filing our taxes is next week. Maybe that’s kind of stressful for you. If you’re a pastor or highly committed church volunteer, you probably just survived a stressful season called Easter. Some of the upcoming events and holidays might have some stress potential for you – Mother’s Day & Graduation / Commencement. Despite our best efforts, I don’t think that any of us can immunize ourselves from stress. But how we deal with stress is a different issue & there’s some potential for good outcomes with stress. Here are a few suggestions:
relax & take a deep breath: I’m learning from my physical therapy from shoulder surgery that getting tense & uptight doesn’t help my muscles. When I relax & trust the therapist (aka Helper), we make better progress
let stress put some fuel and motivation in your efforts: Sometimes I need deadlines and pressure to help me be more productive – smile 🙂
the lifestyle question: stress as a lifestyle is entirely unhealthy and can cause us to make poor decisions in our health, relationships, priorities and time management; consider that you might be addicted to stress and maybe it’s time to actively choose peace over stress #selah
Have you ever had seasons in your life where you feel very overwhelmed? Sometimes we go through times where it seems like everything is broken & sometimes we go through seasons that just have lots of demands. Last week, I had one of those weeks – it was the kids last week of school, I had a couple of sermons to prepare, some work deadlines and a few other spinning plates. I felt like I was drinking from a fire hydrant on full open :/
Thankfully, this week has a little more breathing room. Regardless of the demands & pressures on our lives, it always helps me to remember that God is in charge & that I don’t have to be an “expert” on water pressure, time management, resource allocation, solution provision, energy distribution, etc. While I may have a few talents & skills, God is an expert at everything – most of all, God is an expert at loving us & helping us in our daily living, with or without fire hydrants ,)
I often find myself in the predicament of needing more time & less work. Deadlines, responsibilities, demands, schedules, timelines and the like seem to eat into the 24 hours in each day with nibbles, bites and giant chomps. I used to think that God messed up with the 24 hour thing until I read in Genesis 1:31 about how God said that everything He made (including time) was very good. So here are some helpful thoughts about time being very good:
time is our daily reminder that while we are limited & finite, God is not & God knows the beginning from the end
time helps us to get things done – sometimes pressure is good
there are many people in the Bible who only grew into their destiny because time was an essential ingredient: Joseph, Moses, David, Jacob, Hannah & lots more 🙂
time is an integral part of what God established with the whole Sabbath rest principle
We probably have fairly similar lives with lots of demands & responsibilities – maybe yours are different than mine, but we usually have lots of things to juggle (kids’ schedules, saving Moses, workload concerns, personal goals, family dynamics, church things, . . . .). You probably have a similar list & I’ve often had people ask me for ideas on how to balance everything. If I’m honest, there are times when I don’t balance everything well & some things get short changed, which I hate.
But lately, I’ve found it really helpful to nestle into “one thing” – the essential & continuous priority that permeates everything (sleeping, eating, cooking, errands, conversations, work, blogging, thinking, planning, . . . . . ). My “one thing” is to know Jesus and I want everything that I do to be infused with this “one thing” – Luke 10:42. “One thing” doesn’t mean that I drop everything, but it means that as I go throughout each day with its diverse demands and responsibilities, my “one thing” continues and remains 🙂
It seems to me that in almost every Christmas season, there comes a time when all of the pressures, activities, demands and general busy-ness shifts into the frenzied and frantic zone and the chaos threatens to swallow me into a abyss of cluttered insanity (sorry for all of the adjectives). In the midst of all of this, I find my heart getting really still and quiet, seeking to create some serenity, calm and peace. Even now, I have a few unexpected moments of quiet and while I’m writing this, I find myself letting go of some of the season’s stress and receiving some much needed divine peace.
So my friend, please be sure that with all of this season’s demands and expectations, don’t neglect to take those essential moments to be still and celebrate our Prince of Peace 🙂
My husband & I were discussing our family’s schedule for the next 2 weeks & simply put, its a BUSY season. When I looked up the word busy in the thesaurus, here are some of the words that I found & they seem fairly accurate: occupied, active, engaged, unavailable, full. My challenge is that when I get “busy”, I tend to become less present in my relationships & it seems like I can be very fragmented – little pieces of me spread everywhere.
But here’s my thinking about this season & a possible solution to the frenzy potential: If I can make myself “present” to God (offer myself to Him as a gift / sacrifice), then I trust that He will structure my time, the things I need to get done & the energy to do His work. It has been my experience that when I remain present with God throughout the various activities & demands in my life, I have more peace, I’m more productive & my relationships are less shakey. I like the practice of integrating God throughout each day, activity, conversation & chore – seems like I’m less “busy” when I do this 🙂
I feel like I’m the pot calling the kettle black with this blog – guilty as charged & a walking contradiction, maybe even borderline hypocrite. Here’s why: the last 2 weeks have been busy beyond any degree of rational acceptance and now I’m writing a blog about keeping margins in our lives. A margin is the empty space on a page around the written area. There are margins in this blog, in newspapers, books, etc & margins are necessary in our lives.
empty space, pause, still
Sometimes life feels like a treadmill on which the pace continues to increase & the incline just keeps going up – so many demands, expectations, deadlines, responsibilities, requirements, . . . . . Sometimes if we’re not careful, we fill up all of the margins in our lives & then continue to keep the margins full.
However, when I look at Jesus’ life, He was very intentional about keeping margins in His life. Of course He had MASSIVE demands on His time & person – people squashing Him wherever He went trying to get some of His attention, time, power, healing, love, . . . . . and His life only became increasingly popular each day of His ministry. Nevertheless, He carved margins into his lifestyle. He dismissed the crowed after feeding the 5,000. He went off by Himself to pray ALOT. He withdrew with His disciples from time to time to give them some intensive teaching & attention. When He rode in boats, He slept. Jesus modeled margins for us with perfect agility & balance.
Here are some things that help me to keep some margins in my life:
quiet in the car – it helps me to turn off things that beckon for my attention; furthermore, when I’m riding with my kids, I want to be fully present with & to them
keep some rhythms & routines: sleep when its time to sleep, wake up early to have some solitude (or stay up late if you’re a night person), grab the spare minutes in a day to look to God & still your heart
drink water as opposed to soda & coffee – my body already has enough stress on it with out adding caffeine, etc
sitting with my husband or a friend – I don’t need to have a conversation but just some togetherness
I also want to add some Bible memorizing to my margin maintenance so I can give my mind some food on which to nibble when it wants to digest various “worries”
Keep some still in your life if you want to remain effective over the long run 🙂