Stress or Calm - It is all in the "now" we choose
I often see things on my social media feed which catch my attention. Some make me laugh, like the cats cavorting with each other, or the dog chasing his tail incessantly. Others make me cry, like the stories of hurting women sold into sex trafficking, or those of families losing everything to an overnight fire which ravaged their home. Every now and again, someone posts something which gives me seconds to pause and then to explore the scripture - simply because the words speak deeply to my spirit. One such post happened this morning. It read: Stress makes you believe that everything has to happen right now, faith reassures you that everything will happen in God's timing! (posted from Godfruits.com) Read that again, will you - you might just discover something of truth in that so rich it leaves you pondering, as well. Stress is that force exerted in your life which either pulls you or pushes you with such strength it is almost impossible to resist. It works against rational thought and creates chaos in normally reasonably balanced emotions. Yep, it indeed says everything must happen right now - if not, all will be lost. It isn't rational, remember? It isn't patient, remember? It is urgent, demanding, nagging, and insistent! It drives us to choose the timetable it places in our lives, not the one God has designed!
Sensible thoughts lead you to do right; foolish thoughts lead you to do wrong. (Ecclesiastes 10:2 CEV)
Stress has the greatest inroad into our lives through our thought life. If we were to be honest here, we'd have to admit to the many times stress has played the main part in getting us off-track and down many a road we might best have left untraveled! We get all wrapped up in the "what if" of every frenzied thought stress places in our minds and we run with the loudest thought - a trait I don't recommend to anyone! The quietest thoughts are often the most rational ones, in case you haven't noticed that since you have been listening to those who scream the loudest! Sensibility is not the foremost thought of a stressed life. In fact, you might just wonder if there is an sensibility in your life when stress is high and demands are mounting. Sensibility is really an mental acuity which apprehends quickly. Stress is often the force which keeps us tied up with thoughts which "dull" our ability to apprehend truth quickly - instead directing us to apprehend whatever it is pawning as the truth!
The difference between sensible thought and irrational thought is sometimes a matter of just a few seconds, but when stress is the "manipulating" factor in our lives, we often opt out of taking those extra few seconds to allow the sensible to come to the forefront. Herein lies our greatest opportunity - to wait long enough for the dust created by the whirlwind of stress to settle. In so doing, we often see something of truth which evaded our attention when the storm was raging. One thing I have discovered - you cannot patch a leaky roof in the midst of the rainstorm. You ride out the storm the best you can, then you set out to repair the leak. Why? The "adherence" of the shingle or the roofing tar is best when conditions are at the optimum, not at the worst!
Stress demands our attention, sends our emotions into overdrive, and clamors for immediate responses. Learn this now and you may save yourself a great deal of trouble down the road. The "immediacy" of the need presented by the thought we are entertaining might just be the "clue" we need to breaking free of the responses we have to the pull stress puts in our lives. Rarely does God work this way - in fact, he tells us to wait upon him - to take time to discover his riches and find rest in his presence. This is not the demands of "immediacy" which stress places in our minds - but the small voice that signals we need to step back and create a little "breathing room" in our lives.
Over the last half year or so, I have observed something in my aging mother which comes as a little bit of a surprise to me considering her "slowness" in all she does. When she wants something it is "now". Let's go to the store "now". Write that down for me "now". Maybe this is the result of being 96 and thinking life is short so she must take advantage of every moment. I won't fault her for it. She doesn't have a whole lot of "now" left, so I want her to take full advantage of it while she does! But...I am not at the same place in my life and I cannot respond to everything in my life with such "immediacy". In fact, I will probably make a whole lot of blundering moves if I do! If I were to be honest, I have a whole journal of those already! "Now" is the moment I step back and listen harder. "Now" is the time it takes to settle my thoughts and listen intently for the still small voice of God. "Now" is the time it takes between the whirlwind and the calm after the storm.
Stress demands we trudge through the storm blindly. God's plan is for us to know peace. Stress calls out for us to listen to the saga of frenzied thought it poses. God's voice beckons us into a calm sanity. I don't know about you, but I kind of like the idea of being calmly sane! Just sayin!