“Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ.” Philippians 4:6-7 NLT
As I prayed and pondered about this blog and how it might be used to encourage and assist you this summer, I came to realize my stress and anxiety levels were beginning to escalate; and my fingernails were bitten once again! What shall I write?
It was staring me in the face. Anxiety. Stress. Worry. These are “respectable sins” (term taken from Jerry Bridges) in my life that the Lord is helping me to overcome, one step at a time. Thank you Lord. And, unless I am gravely mistaken, you may struggle with these emotions from time to time as well.
So over the summer, I will be talking about this common but draining and negative emotion, which if not harnessed by the Holy Spirit, will leave us depleted and in a rut of despair.
Many of life’s demands can cause stress, particularly work, relationships and money problems. And, when you feel stressed, it can get in the way of sorting out these demands, or can even affect everything you do. Stress can affect how you feel, think, behave and how your body works, and can have negative consequences.
God has thought of everything when He created us. When you are stressed, there is a surge of hormones in your body. These stress hormones are released to enable you to deal with pressures or threats. It is called the “fight or flight” response. Once the pressure or threat has passed, your stress hormone levels will usually return to normal. However, if you’re constantly under stress, these hormones will remain in your body, leading to the symptoms of stress. Our anxieties and worries can then persist whether or not the cause is clear to us. This is not God’s plan for us my dear sisters.
I thought of the anxieties and stressors which I have allowed into my life that shouldn’t be there in the first place. How easy to think: “I not only must have it all and do it all- but be good at it. And I must look good while I’m doing it! And furthermore, I must let the world know that I love my family more than you love yours and if I don’t worry and fret and run myself into the ground to accomplish this expectation, who will?” This is pride. Take inventory. There is another example I am reminded in the bible where Jesus told Martha in Luke 10, that “…you are worried and anxious about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.” There are other lessons Jesus is teaching in this story, but there is one that is loud and clear. What are your priorities? Take inventory. And finally, I sometimes feel that the person who is telling me not to worry is the one who doesn’t fully comprehend the problem because if they did they would be worried too! Misguided self justification. Not the point. Take inventory. Our culture (encourages us to have) has too many plates spinning. Much of our stress should not be there in the first place. This was sobering for myself, but was helpful. Take courage and make some changes. Summer activities are a good place to start!
I will be praying Philippians 4:6-9 over us this week. I encourage you to do the same. Write it on a 3 x 5 card and put in your handbag so you can look at it often; or put it on your phone. Fill your mind with it. We will be talking about it more the next few weeks. Kathy xo