First, we need to turn some things down, no matter how good they sound. Instead of leaning towards people-pleasing, we need to lean into what pleases God and our families.
Pushing back the covers took the same amount of energy as I would have needed to push a boulder uphill. I crawled out of bed with slow, dreadful steps. What was wrong? I love my ministry, but each morning when Alexa reminded me of my busy schedule, I longed to collapse into bed again and continue sleeping.
A strong glass of sweet tea could motivate me until noon. That’s what us southern girls drink. Other mornings required a mocha latte. Where was my energy? Where was my passion?
I found myself binging on carbs to get me through the afternoon slump. I experienced frequent headaches. My plate had become overloaded, and now deadlines threatened me with too little time and too many obligations. How had it come to this?
Looking at the past few months revealed the problem. Finishing the manuscript for my next book and attending a speaker and writer’s conference should have screamed, “February is full! No more!” Then several opportunities opened that I just could not pass up. Then a speaking course opened up, and the phrase, “Last time at this price” hooked me. That’s just one night a week. I can handle that — until my homework assignment included writing a one-thousand-word testimony.
Then a ten-day online challenge beckoned to me. It started after the conference. I can do that, I thought. I didn’t realize that at my age, my body required a longer recovery time.
I counted the days down until March 1. Everything would be in my rear-view mirror by then, and I would learn my lesson, or did I?
Do you need to slow down?
If any of that sounds just a little familiar, you might have overloaded your schedule. You probably don’t have writing deadlines and speaker courses. Your deadlines are of a different nature. Maybe from work or home. Perhaps your schedule is filled with appointments. Have you noticed any of these five signs that it might be time to slow down:
Lack of energy?
Lack of passion for something you once loved?
We could google the signs of overdoing it and probably find more symptoms. What can we do about this stress? What can we do when we don’t control our own calendar?
First, let’s see what God’s remedy for stress includes, and then we will consider some practical ideas we can implement for stress-free living.
What the Bible says:
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV)
This beloved passage begins with a hard command: Don’t be anxious about anything. Do you feel the impossibility of that statement? By the time we seek God’s help, we have allowed anxiety to control our hearts and minds about everything in life, and now, God expects us not to be anxious about anything at all.
Here’s what we know about God. He won’t command us to do something we cannot do. Even with temptation, He makes a way of escape (1 Cor. 10:13).
We also know that nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37). Here’s where we need to walk by faith and not sight. We have to believe that we can do this with God’s help, not in our own power. We can stop fretting about everything in life when we trust God. Our first response to a problem should be prayer, not protests.
It’s almost impossible to feel anxious when we pray and give thanks as the second half of the verse commands. Stop right now and list ten reasons you can be thankful.
Feeling better yet?
Part of this problem has a spiritual root. The enemy wants us busy. If he cannot prevent us from praying, he will only allow us time for a quick prayer. Fast prayers are as beneficial to our spiritual lives as fast food is for us physically. Instead of convenience, our prayers must be continual.
So, we refuse to allow our thoughts to linger on the stress, worry, and pressure. Then we redirect our focus to prayer, giving God thanks for all He’s done and all He will do.
When do we stop praying?
We don’t. Either God will lift our burden, flood us with peace as we meet our deadlines, or He will allow the circumstances to continue until we make changes in our lives.
The promise of a thankful prayer is the peace that guards our hearts and minds. Notice this peace comes with several conditions. Verse six gives us the conditions that we’ve already discussed: stop being anxious, pray, and be thankful.
The word guard in our verse comes from a military term that connotes a highly secured area. Have you ever visited a place such as a military base or the White House? We see the presence of guards in places like these. Their job is to protect those within from those coming to visit.
God wants to guard our hearts and minds, the seat of our emotions and our thoughts with His peace. He never designed us to live in a pressure-cooker world. Now let’s reflect on some lifestyle changes that can relieve some stress:
Learn to say, “No!”
First, we need to turn some things down, no matter how good they sound. Instead of leaning towards people-pleasing, we need to lean into what pleases God and our families. If an overloaded work schedule or carpooling the kids leaves you irritable and snappy, you can’t please your family or God.
Can You Delegate Some Tasks?
Allow the children to do some household chores. Learn to delegate some tasks to others at work if you have that authority.
Are you getting enough sleep?
Are you staying up late and rising early to meet the demands of life? Do you awake throughout the night fretting about all you have to accomplish the next day? Is your mind so focused on your heavy load that you find it difficult to sleep? Sleep and relaxation are essential to our well-being.
God knew this when He commanded us to honor the Sabbath. The Jewish Sabbath fell on Saturday, but when Jesus Christ rose on the first day of the week, the church began observing Sunday as a day of rest.
Even a short nap during the day refreshes us and makes us more productive when we return to our tasks. I didn’t believe this until I tried it, and now I implement breaks and rest into my life in order to achieve maximum productivity.
Sweet friend, I know stress, and I also know we don’t have to continue in that vicious cycle. Let’s trade anxious thoughts for grateful prayers. Enjoy the peace God gives us when we do things His way. Implement the practical tips that can apply to your life.
Perhaps you will have to look forward to a future date to crawl out from the load you carry, but when you do, allow yourself to rest. Take a break, and don’t return to a rat-race lifestyle.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/lzf
Carolyn Dale Newell is an author and certified speaker. She knows what it is to live with blindness, but she calls her disability a gift from God. Her passion is to equip women to break free from emotional strongholds through her book, Faith That Walks on Water: Conquering Emotional Bondage with the Armor of God. You can connect with Carolyn on her website and her women’s ministry group on Facebook.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
Photo and video Credit: ©SWN Design/©GettyImages