Originally published Thursday, 21 February 2013.
How do you handle stress? Do you turn to or away from God? How do you escape stress? Seven years ago I graduated college with a Bachelor in English and Communication. As a recent graduate, I was desperately in pursuit of a field to begin my career. I found it frustrating and often hopeless as many applications went unanswered. During my post-college job search, I worked for a book binding company as their graphics specialist and a freelance writer for a community newspaper. Life felt as though it was stuck on pause. Student loan payments began after several months. Medical bills were piling up and 20 hours a week wasn’t cutting it for all my other bills. Then I had a minor cancer scare that rattled me to the core. Life was overwhelming and I wanted to escape. Chronic pain and a spine condition required me to sit instead of stand at a job. I thought it would have made things easier without this factor, but God had a plan. As my life remained on "pause", I watched with envy as my college friends went on to get well-paid positions in their desired field. One of my friends even started her own magazine; which is still very impressive. It was frustrating not to be using my skills and knowledge. I prayed often for clarity and direction. God remained silent. Instead of returning to God in obedience... I turned to cigarettes and frequent nights out at the bar with friends. Rebellion and defiance were my poison as I began to push the Lord further and further away. If God wasn’t going to do it my way, then I wasn’t about to live His way. Yet I still had the nerve to ask Him, “Please Lord, get me out of this misery. I need to escape from this hell.” Nothing could help me escape. It felt like I was waiting for life to start. Why wasn’t God answering me? God is capable of moving mountains, I thought, surely He’s able to do this one little thing for me. I didn’t realize it at the time but God was teaching me a lesson through this challenging time. Psalm 107:10-11 says, “Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness, prisoners suffering in iron chains, because they rebelled against God’s commands and despised the plans of the Most High.” Sometimes “no” is the answer. Where one door closes, another door opens that we are meant to walk through. He knows our every thought, worry, desire and care. God knows when we are going to walk away and just how to bring us back to the cross. Through lessons and trials God draws us closer and pushes the outside world away so that we can learn to depend on Him alone. Without trial we wouldn’t know joy. When I finally stopped trying to do everything on my own power, I was brought to my knees at the foot of the cross. My heart poured out apologies and a desperate cry for forgiveness. The Lord had something much better in mind - something beyond my own desire. After finally surrendering my control over to God... I was able to live happily and graciously by following His will.