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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Stressed to the max?

The way we think is often the determining factor in how we perceive a circumstance.  In changing the way we think, we can be transformed.  If you haven't realized it yet, God tends to give us a different perspective than we'd see on our own.  There are some of us who go through life just feeling like come what may, we are stuck with it - there just isn't anything else we could have done about it.  This could not be farther from the truth!  We don't live by some "chance" encounter or outcome.  We live by faith - but faith is based is based on a firmer foundation than kismet.  Sometimes we live with a whole lot more stress in our lives than we really need to - simply because we think stress comes from outside of us.  The truth is, stress is something INSIDE of us - it comes from the way we think and the choices we make as a result of our thinking.  One of the easiest ways to get out from under the pressure of stress is to "reframe" your thinking.

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (Romans 12:1-2 MSG)

Many times we want to discount the actual "benefit" of stress - seeing it as a bad thing and something to be avoided at all cost.  In actuality, stress is really God's way of speaking to us - it is a means of getting our attention.  It is a signal of sorts - to get us to see things from his perspective.  We are not going to see things differently until something gets our attention which will cause us to question the way we are seeing them.  This is how God uses stress in our lives - it begins to get us asking questions - and God can use those questions!  If we understand what causes stress, we might hear the questions a little clearer and a little faster!

- Stress come whenever we find ourselves making compromises.  Anytime there is a struggle between what is "right" or "wrong" in our lives, we find ourselves encountering some of the feelings we associate with stress.  Even when we choose to take the path of "right", we often feel like we aren't stress-free.  Why?  There is a good kind of stress!  Stress actually pushes us beyond the last place we were.  If you think of muscles, they only develop strength when we push them beyond what they are "used to" doing - they need a little stress to get them "toned".  Even with the path of "right" there will be stressful challenges designed to help us develop.  Two things come out of this "good stress" - a building of integrity (foundation) and a letting go of control (trust).  

- Stress is present anytime there is conflict within relationships.  It doesn't matter what the relationship, stress comes when conflict arises.  If you don't have a clue yet about how conflict actually comes into relationship, let me give you one word of advice - it is usually related to someone's selfish choices.  When the other person can see things only their way (or perhaps it is you who sees things this way) - it is that way which makes sense to them and they don't quite understand why you cannot see things the same way they do.  Conflict has started!  The thing which usually comes next is the belief no one understands where you are coming from - unreasonable as though it may be, not everyone will be able to think exactly like you think! Conflict takes root!  What we do with how we are willing to see things and what we will believe about others is often the basis of conflict.  Changing our perspective can help us see our selfishness and open us up to the possibility of another's viewpoint.

- Stress increases as we feel the sense of any form of "competition" within either the relationship or the circumstances.  If you don't believe me, watch a family play a rousing game of Monopoly sometime.  Someone wants Park Place or Boardwalk - when they get it, they manage to buy all those houses and hotels, causing the rent on that tiny square to skyrocket to astronomical values.  Landing on that space almost bankrupts you.  What does the other guy do to offset his losses?  He buys up lots and lots of other property, getting monopolies on those properties until he can garner some monies of his own from others landing on his investments.  The one property has some value, but when you "own it all", the value multiplies!  Competition at its finest!  At the core of all this competition is something we might not recognize - comparison.  You own this, I don't.  You own that, I don't.  You have a monopoly, I don't.  Competition also involves making value judgments about what the other guy is doing and why.  We see things as "against" us - every move is designed in some way to "take us down".  If you don't think this increases stress, just drag out the Monopoly game!  When competition enters the picture, what we forget is the truth of God's grace and favor - they aren't given because we compete to get them.  They are given because he loves us first!  Competition always puts grace out of the picture - compassion brings grace to life!

So, not sure what is "internally" getting at you today, but I do know a change of perspective might be in order.  Just sayin!