"Everything's pretty stressful right now," are the words I uttered to a friend just this last week. And it was true. We're in the middle of moving across the country, ushering in a new job, a new house, new friends, new church. New schools, new gym, and new rhythms. And it's all just...a lot.
Whether it's over finances, work, relationships, family drama, politics, or something else entirely, 75% of Americans report feeling moderate to high levels of stress in the past month. And stress wreaks havoc on our bodies. It causes us to grow tired, angry, sick (headaches, upset stomachs), lose weight or gain it.
Our culture doesn't give us a good answer for dealing with it, either. We're bombarded with pleas to spend more money, give more energy, and focus our attention on more and more and more. Oftentimes, what's calling for our attention isn't evil, but the sum total leaves us with little margin and much stress.
Culture overall may not have an answer (besides urging us to take a vacation, which we simultaneously can't afford and that only leaves us wanting "a vacation from my vacation"), but the Bible sure does.
If you want to get stronger and faster in the gym, one of the most fundamental steps you can take is to simply show up every day. On days when you feel good and days when you feel crummy, showing up and pushing yourself is key. If you work at it for a month, then take a month off, you'll take big steps backwards. Disciplining yourself to be present and push every day is key.
Our battles against stress are no different.
How to fight stress:
Our hearts and our minds are on high alert at all times. Social media either drives us to fear missing out, keeping up, or looking "the part." There's no rest in pursuit of success. Jesus tells us, "Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28
By this, he's not simply telling us he'll give us a good night's sleep. He's saying that we get to rest from our performance, which has left us "weary and heavy-laden." Have you ever woken up in the morning and already felt weary? And no matter how many shots of espresso you down, the weariness doesn't lift? Biblical rest offers our body, mind, and soul rest and refreshment.
Stress is often fueled by our fears. Whether it's at work (fear of our boss), at home (fear of a messy house, an unhappy spouse, or misbehaved children), or at the bank (fear of running out of money), our fears pile up and manifest in a stress-filled existence. Yet God in His grace gives us healthy release valves.
Whether that’s a round of golf, an hour at the gym, curling up with a good book, or spending time with friends that love Jesus, we can find a temporary release from the stresses that dominate. 1 Peter 5:7 urges us to “cast” all of our stresses, fears, anxieties on God “because he cares for you.” Releasing those things that we can’t control (and even the ones we can) to God allows Him to care for our souls, and do the work we can’t on our own
Show up every day. Potential stressors bombard you in every moment. Do battle every day by resting and releasing.
Feeling stressed? Let’s wage a war.
- Ben Reed