Burden. Overload. Stress. Do these words describe the way you feel about life? If that’s the case, I want you to know you’re not alone. And with God’s help, you can change your outlook and overcome your situation. No matter what’s going on around you, you can have a life in Christ filled with peace and joy.
When you woke up this morning, you probably made some decisions. You decided how many times to hit the snooze button. You decided what outfit you were going to wear. You decided how many cups of coffee to have. But there were some other decisions you didn’t get to make (even though I bet you wish you could have). Let me show you what I mean…
Did you get to choose the weather today?
Did you have any control over the flow of traffic?
How about the mood of your roommate or spouse?
I guess those are kind of silly questions. Neither you nor I get to make those kinds of decisions. If we did, the temperature might be a few degrees warmer, the traffic would certainly be much lighter, the news would be filled with positive, feel-good stories, and our spouses and friends would always be in a fantastic mood. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?
The truth is we don’t get to make any of those external decisions, but that doesn’t mean we’re victims of our circumstances. We may not be able to choose what happens in the environment around us, but we can certainly choose how we respond to it. And the decisions we make on a daily basis go a long way in determining the kind of life we are going to live. You can make decisions, and you can take steps, to change how you view your circumstances and how you respond to them.
Before You React, Think What You Can Do
Examples like these can help you change your approach to problem-solving:
If it’s raining outside, you can take care of the inside chores you needed to do but had been putting off.
If traffic is heavy on your normal route, you can choose an alternate route to save time.
If your friend is in a terrible mood, you can lift her spirits by encouraging her rather than letting her mood affect you.
These examples help illustrate a greater point: Even though you can’t control every situation you face, you can control how you face it. You can take steps to determine what kind of life you are going to live. Here are a few ways to do that…
5 Ways to Manage Stress
1. Say something positive. If you constantly feel overwhelmed or under stress and you can’t pinpoint the exact reason, start making some Biblical daily confessions. Rather than getting up each day, talking about how bad things are, begin each day declaring God’s Word and His promises over your life. I am more than a conqueror! (Romans 8:37) God will provide for my every need! (Matthew 6:26) I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! (Philippians 4:13)
2. Fine-tune your budget. If your finances are a source of constant stress in your life, decide to start a budget (or reevaluate your current budget). What is something practical you can do to solve the problem? Cut an expense that is a luxury but not a necessity. Look for a new way to make some additional money. Ask someone who is good with finances to take a look at your budget and give you some suggestions.
3. Do something surprising. If there is someone who is driving up your stress levels by constantly hurting your feelings, do something nice for them—send them a kind note, buy them lunch, tell them something you appreciate about them, or begin praying for them on a regular basis. By doing these little things you are taking steps of faith and obeying God’s command to love your enemies.
4. Upgrade your energy level. If a nagging health problem is leaving you feeling stressed out and run down, start an exercise routine. No more excuses. Set aside time each day to get the exercise and care your body desperately needs. Rather than making excuses, make a plan…and stick to it. You may think that you simply don’t have the energy to exercise. You feel too bad, or you’re too tired. But I often find when I go ahead and begin to exercise that I start to feel better. Exercise takes energy, but it gives you back more energy than it takes!
5. Get out of your rut. If the demands of work are overwhelming and causing you to feel overloaded, do something about it. Delegate some tasks, reevaluate your systems or talk to your boss. (Your boss may not even realize how much you are doing or how it is negatively affecting your personal life.) Instead of complaining how overworked you are, look for ways to be more efficient and how to make the most of your time each day.
These are just a few examples, but as you can see, there are so many ways you can step out in faith in order to live the life Jesus died to give you. God is going to do His part, but He wants you to do your part, too. You may not have all the answers and you may not get it right every time, but if you’ll determine to take a step, God is going to meet you along the way. Remember, you don’t have to live a life burdened with stress and frustration. Instead, you can live a happy, peaceful, overcoming life. It’s just a matter of what steps you are going to take. The choice is yours…you decide.