What to do With Stress

I love being busy.  I thrive on more, but these days we’re a little over the top.

We leave today for a board meeting in London for 9 days (two weeks before our daughter gets married).  Yesterday, in addition to 731 wedding issues, most of which ended in disaster, there were 492 emails,

and we got updates on about 17 friends with hard health issues,

and then there were church staffing changes, upcoming moves, and housing issues for our kids,

and news that felt like betrayal and a punch in the gut for one of us,

Oh, and I shattered a pyrex bowl while trying to bake ahead for out of town wedding guests.

Yeah, sometimes it’s the little things that get you.

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I can hear you yelling at the computer about now. “Stress??!!!  That’s nothing!  You should see my life!”

The past few nights I’ve woken up at 3 a.m. for good and have sent emails with the subject line “things I woke up worrying about…” John’s favorite was:

What if our house is in the flight pattern the morning we’re outside doing the bridal brunch and prayer time and no one can hear anything over the roar of the planes?

The other night when I was awake the verse came to mind, “Don’t worry about anything.  Instead pray about everything.  Tell God all your needs and don’t forget to thank Him for His answers.”  But when I started talking to Him about what was worrying me it sounded pretty ridiculous.

What do you do with stress?  Here are a few things I’ve been learning:

  1. Write about it.   I was reading yesterday about Adoniram and Ann Judson who were missionaries to Burma in the early 1800’s.  Talk about stress!  Ann had two children die, went five years without seeing any fruit in their ministry and went 6 months with her husband gone, not knowing if he was dead or alive.  She used the spiritual practice of journaling to pour her heart out and try to keep things in perspective.  But the key was that she didn’t just write about her circumstances, but also what she believed about the character of God. 

So I tried this and it was a helpful reminder.  After writing whining to God about my stuff, I wrote:  I believe in all things You work for good to those who love you.(Romans 8:28).  I believe you will never leave or forsake me.(Hebrews 13:5). I believe many are the plans of the human heart, but it is your purpose that prevails (Proverbs19:21).

  • Exercise.  One of the great things about starting to train for the half-marathon is that every day although I’m sure I’m going to die, I don’t.  And when I finish I feel great.  It’s a terrific (though a tad sadistic) stress-reducer!
  • Say the hard words: “Could you please help?” and “No, I can’t do that.”  Some of our stress is self-imposed because we don’t have adequate boundaries, and some is because we are too proud to ask for help.  I am so grateful for the many gracious people in my community who have said “Sure I can do that!” or just provided a listening ear.
  • Just.  Keep. Breathing.  I wrote about this here.

What’s keeping you up at night?  What helps you when you’re stressed?

6 thoughts on “What to do With Stress

  1. When I am feeling really stressed out I am reminded that God is in control and that I really need to be open to asking for help. It is those stressful moments that remind me that we are not designed to live this life alone and that we truly need each other even though I think I can do everything by myself!

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  2. You’ve given yourself GREAT advice, Laura!! I had to giggle when I saw that you had decided to run the half-marathon! I’m sure you’ll never regret it and that you will do beautifully! And I’m sure that IF any of the things you are worrying about came true, they would be amongst the most hilarious things you remember about the wedding! I’m praying for you!

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  3. I wonder if that’s what the Psalmists were doing: writing about it. After every depressing Psalm chronicling how awful things are, there seems to come a verse or two saying, “YET will I praise Him.” Or, “Yet, HE is in control.”
    ‘They didn’t just write about their circumstances, but also what they believed about the character of God.’ To remind themselves, even in the hard times, who God was and is and forever will be.

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