Tuesday, November 22

Red Badge of Stress

Read Psalm 62:5-12

I read this today, and it knocked my socks off.

“I call it stress and act like it’s normal, some kind of trophy to be proud of.”

The author was talking about feeling tired, worn out, over committed and under creative. There is likely a reason such a topic should speak to me at this juncture in my life, as I feel tired, worn out, over committed and under creative these days.

I tend to wear my busyness as a badge. As if the number of meetings, errands, subjects to teach, crafts to create and foods to prepare somehow validates me as a person. I am special because of the length of my to-do list and the number of people who need me.

It’s not that I can’t say “no,” it’s that I don’t want to say “no.” I like the people I work with. I value the time I spend with them. I enjoy the teaching, the crafting and the cooking. I love being involved in the things I am involved with. But when I literally have to be three people at once on a Sunday morning (not including the always present roll of wife and mom), something’s not quite right.

Just because we can juggle doesn’t mean we need to all the time. I thought by now I’d read enough on this topic to be an expert. Apparently it’s not the reading that gains the expertise.

As we venture forth into the craze of “the Holliday season,” which I’m pretty starts in September now, we need to remember that saying no to a few things we really, really want to do might just be necessary.

And we need to remember that most of our stress is voluntary. When things happen outside of our control we have the option of freaking out, or hanging out in the shadow of the Almighty.

We can reconcile rest and busyness, it’s just a lot more complicated. It involves getting up earlier, making more lists and-contrary to popular belief-spending more time with God. Early morning quiet time is one of those things that gets shoved to the back burner on crazy days, but those are the days it absolutely must come first.

I’m not sure how I can emphasize this point enough.

It’s the first thing I neglect too. “I’ll squeeze it in later,” I tell myself a dozen times a day. And as I fall, used up and wrung out into bed, I tell myself, “Tomorrow is another day.” And it is. Another busy day full of doing this and doing that and before I know it, my Bible is buried under a pile of bills or I’m sushing my hungry kids so I can hurry through day 16 of my Bible study just so I can cross it off my list.

Not cool.

And then I wonder why it’s all catching up to me. Why, when I have my life filled with so many good things, am I so tense all the time?

Rest doesn’t always come through resting. Not the way we define it anyway. Just as we can be just stressed out doing nothing, we can be at peace in the middle of a storm. The act of resting is not as important as in whom we rest.

Being stressed is nothing to be proud of. Being at peace when we should be stressed sure is though. As long as the pride goes to the right source:

“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him.
Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.”

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