I feel like we hear about the consequences of a stressful lifestyle a lot; it raises your risk of heart disease, lowers your immune system, & really does nothing good for you. But knowing that, at least for me, doesn’t diminish my stress level (if anything, it may raise it!)
For most of my life, I feel like I’ve been a pretty high-stress person. Not because there’s necessarily anything terribly stressful going on, but I guess I just don’t handle the every day stress of life very well or something. Little things I need to get done or remember just bounce around my head nagging at me not to forget them. And ultimately I just feel stressed out – I feel on edge, my body is usually tense, & it sucks.
For years I’ve been trying to “relax” but I just feel like I can’t, that being a little on the edge is just part of my personality or something. But at the same time I know that the Holy Spirit fills us with “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness & self control.” So I wasn’t content to just settle in my old way of life when I know Jesus died to give me this abundant life!
Three weeks ago Pastor Greg talked about a certain verse at church:
“Rejoice in the Lord always… Again Rejoice… Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer & petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
I’ve heard this verse so many times & it’s always meant something to me, like “that’s nice, that’s how I should be, how I need to be.” but this time it was like I finally got it! I had a breakthrough, seriously! This verse is EXACTLY what I’ve been looking for. I don’t want to be anxious or stressed, & I want the peace of God, which is beautifully illogical, guarding my heart & mind, everyday! And I found the key to living in His peace & presence – by prayer & petition, with thanksgiving, & rejoicing in the Lord. Literally.
Since then, I’ve been specifically thankful. I thank God for things all the time (God thank You for our beautiful home. Thank You that we have plenty of healthy food. Thank You for all of Landon’s jobs & that I get to stay home with Kaden. Thank you for our car. Thank You for my camera. Thank you that I have shoes. Thank you that I can read & write. Thank you for my family…) And I ask Him to take care of my concerns. And it’s made a HUGE difference! I feel so happy & relaxed. I’m not worried, I don’t feel tense, & I’m not stressed, & I feel so close to God. And it’s AWESOME!!!
Not only have I been way happier, but my health has gotten better too. The past couple of months I’ve been feeling a tightness in my chest, like I couldn’t take a deep breath, maybe like 25% of the time. That went away completely. And for the past 8 months or so I’ve had really dry, itchy, flaky skin on my right hand. I don’t know why, but it would itch so much I would wake up scratching it on the middle of the night & it would crack & bleed. I just realized yesterday that it’s completely better! I was shocked. And I have not changed anything except my outlook on life.
I’m not saying that I’m completely free of stress now; I still start to feel that tense, stressed out feeling building at the bottom of my chest every once in a while, at the same things that have always stressed me out, but now the second I recognize it I just start telling God the things I’m thankful for that moment (clean drinking water, my iPhone, sunshine, a washing machine & dryer, air conditioning, make up, gDiapers, music, etc.) & the feeling goes away IMMEDIATELY. It is so awesome. I love it & I’m so happy, & grateful. And now that I’ve seen my life can be this way I’m never gonna stop 🙂