ASKING FOR A FRIEND:
How Do You Deal With Stress?
by Debonnie Barnes
Stress... Where do I even begin?! This is one of those universal topics that everyone can relate to. I would venture to say that some of us even feel guilty or shameful about being stressed. We end up asking ourselves the question, “If I’m so blessed why am I so stressed?” We begin to feel ungrateful for not being completely at peace with where we are. Well luckily, there is an answer to your question.
You are so stressed because you don’t know how to rest!
In our day and age, resting is something that only the weak do. #NoDaysOff right? This type of lifestyle is actually what causes stress. We all need rest. It is so beneficial for us. Guys... God even rested. A God who is outside of time itself, a God who can miraculously keep us going when we have nothing left, a God who is perfect and lacks nothing, rested. Don’t let anyone make you feel like resting is weak, because I know for a fact that my God is not weak! We are made in the image of God, so if God rested, maybe we need to as well.
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
I think it is important for us to know what rest is and what it is not. Rest is not passive. It is not watching Netflix all day, or detaching from and ignoring your world. Rest is active. When we detach from our lives, we have no plan for what we need to do when we reattach ourselves. This only causes temporary relief, and more stress down the road. Rest is also not laziness. Rest is not the absence of work it is embracing God’s work in our lives.
Rest is God’s idea! If fact, in the bible, He actually commands us to rest one day a week. This day of rest is called the Sabbath, a day the Lord has made Holy. Holy meaning dedicated to God. It is not a day to simply not do anything, it is a day to put down your work and let God work on you! Enter into Gods rest, a restorative rest that equips you to deal with the stressors of life instead of just running away from them.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
It sounds easy enough. However, I have tried to rest and found myself twiddling my thumbs wondering if the silence I’d surrounded myself in was actually doing anything for me. I’ve tried to plan my way out of stress and only found myself frustrated because no plan could ever make me feel at peace, even if it were a solid well thought out plan. That didn’t restore my soul. I would even find myself in a state of stress and anxiety at a time when, in my thought life, I did not feel stressed. What do you do then?
If I can be vulnerable for a minute, this message came at a time when I was feeling down on myself for being stressed out. I have been dealing with this thing called trichotillomania, meaning I pull out my eyelashes when I get stressed. I don’t know why I do it, and I try very hard not to, but it’s almost automatic. Half of the time I don’t realize I am doing it until half of my eyelashes are gone. The period between having an episode and waiting for them to grow back is almost shameful. I keep thinking, look at what I did to myself, all because I was stressed.
You can believe that I’ve tried many techniques to stop the stress and anxiety that my body goes through. Some of the techniques worked some of the time, but never all of the time. You know what I’ve noticed though? I have never once had the urge to pull out a single eyelash when I’m in the presence of God. Isn’t that something? In Him is where my mind, body, and soul find rest. I know now, after hearing this message, that I am stressed because I don’t know how to rest, and my rest is not the kind of rest that satisfies. I have to enter into God’s rest.
Anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.
In order to rest, you have to live in today. You can’t worry about tomorrow. Today already has enough trouble, so let tomorrow worry about itself (Matthew 6:34). The things that we typically worry about fall into one of two categories
Provision - Will I have what I want and need?
Position - Will I end up where I want to go?
Both answers lie in tomorrow. Let them go.
1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Cast your anxieties on God because he’s already in tomorrow. Don’t spend your energy creating problems that probably won’t happen, when you could spend that energy on being present in today.
Let me ask you something. The things that you’ve been worried about, the things that you’ve lost countless nights of sleep to, what percentage of them have actually happened? I bet it’s not a lot. The unnecessary stress your worries are putting you through are only taking up headspace.
To rest, you also have to live by priorities. God loves you so much, that not only does He take care of all of your needs, He also wants to give you the desires of your heart. Trust Him to provide, and allow yourself to seek Him and His kingdom first.
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
On days of rest, it is important that we invest in our relationships with family and friends. These are people that make deposits into our lives, not withdrawals. These are people that we can be ourselves and grow with. There is such great value in community. Lets not take that for granted and miss all that it has to offer.
The most important component of a day of rest is spending extended time with God. This is a great time to reevaluate your purpose. A time to check in with God and see if there are any changes that you need to make in your life.
It is not God’s desire for you to be stressed. His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). He can… As a matter of fact, He wants to help you figure out how to rid your life of stress. Keep in mind that stressors, the things that happen in life that cause stress, will come and go, but how we respond to those stressors and how it affects us is completely determined by us.
We can be resilient, or we can crumble and become dysfunctional under the pressure. God’s word has a fantastic roadmap to becoming resilient. I highly recommend reading it! You can have the craziest life, yet have abundant joy and peace inside, a peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). Enter into God’s rest and let Him do His work in your life!
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.