You know, I’m just beginning to realize the toll of the last few years on me and my stress levels. I didn’t realize what a load I’ve been carrying, first while working at the juvenile justice facility and then working as the primary therapist for and adolescent intensive outpatient rehab (both of which are good jobs and worthwhile). It’s been a little over two months since I’ve gone into private practice and am just now starting to feel like myself again. I guess we all have times of physical, emotional, and spiritual exhaustion. I’ve been considering this from a Biblical point of view (now that I have time 🙂 ). I found that God’s Word does address this quite clearly.
James 1:2-4 explains that one of the best ways in which to deal with stress is to see God’s purposes in the obstacles. James tells us to count it all joy when we face trials of various kinds. He goes on to explain that the trials themselves will produce good stuff in us. This is how God transforms us to the image of His Son. Rom. 8:28-29 explains that all things work to the good in order that we might be conformed to the image of Christ. It may be that God is using a trial in my life in order to develop part of the fruit of the spirit in me. Just remembering that God is in control and will make sure these things are for our good helps relieve some of the toll of the stress. That’s how Paul was able to hang in there through all kinds of problems and stress with and inner peace and joy (2 Cor. 4:16-18).
Jesus Himself gave a good example of making sure we set aside planned times of quiet and solitude. Developing a heart of prayers helps us to see things through God’s eyes and puts things in their proper perspective. Prayer also helps us experience His presence more fully throughout the day (Ps. 16:8-11). Prayer can change a stressful situation but it’s more important in how it changes us.
Jesus tells us not to let our hearts be troubled or afraid (John 14:27). Stress can make us focus on what’s going wrong or what is difficult in our lives. It’s important that we learn to guard our hearts (Pro. 4:23) against negativity and pessimism. We may not understand what God is doing but we know we can rely on Him to be faithful and to take care of us.2 Cor. 10:5 tells us to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.
The older I get, the more I realize that Psalm 90:12 (So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom). Recently, the phrase – major on the majors and minor on the minors – has been running through my head at odd times (For you therapists – no I’m not becoming obsessive 🙂 ). I’m just really beginning to consider that I am only really middle aged because I plan on living as long as the Bible patriarchs. 🙂 I want to spend my life on things that matter – things that are really important. I want to choose my priorities and live for them. I’m learning to be more deliberate in choosing how I spend my time and energy which helps on the stress level.
Learning to have a thankful heart helps also. 1 Thes. 5:18 reminds me that I am to give thanks in all things. That doesn’t mean I am to give thanks FOR all things, but that I can be thankful IN all things. I need to count my blessings and cultivate a grateful heart.
I’m trying to learn to handle the realities of a stress filled life and yet still maintain that inner peace which God promises.