I very clearly remember a time in my life when I had no cares in the world. When my biggest concern was whether or not I would have enough time to squeeze in my favorite show between homework and dinner.
At what point did I leave the careless lifestyle of my childhood and trade it in for the worries and stresses of adulthood?
I will be the first to admit adulting is not as fun as I thought it would be.
And that’s because the overwhelming feeling of always being stressed and my brain never shutting off took over.
This didn’t just happen overnight. It seemed to be a gradual progression that I slowly began to accept as my new reality. The stress began with large things like finances. But before I knew it, every tiny detail in my life was bombarding my peace.
It seems as if the worries of my day all come flooding in just as my head touches the pillow. The timing is impeccable. Then the rest of my night is spent in turmoil. I find myself feeling so helpless in these hours and wishing I could just get my brain to stop running in circles.
In these hours, I cry out to God asking for me to trust him with all things in my life. For me to not feel the need to control things. Especially when over half of those things don’t matter in the end.
In my moments of desperation and brokenness I continue to seek Jesus knowing he is the only one who can truly bring peace to my soul.
Here are two ways the Lord is teaching me to deal with the stresses my life brings, big or small.
1. Pray About It
Now, I know as Christians this seems to be the cliché answer. But seriously. Pray about it.
Just a few nights ago, I read an email just before bed. Probably my first mistake. The email was related to a possible mistake I had made at work. Immediately my mind went crazy. I was laying in bed trying to figure out if I actually made the mistake or if maybe something was interpreted incorrectly.
I am well aware that I could have made a mistake. But I thought I had double checked the information I sent out. Instantly, my brain started searching for whether or not I made the mistake. If I had my laptop with me, I could have answered the question. But I had left my computer at work. So I laid awake all night, trying to remember what I did, and, if I did make the mistake, how to fix it.
One, even if I did make the mistake it wasn’t the end of the world and I’m plenty used to fessing up to my mistakes because they happen.
Two, this is ridiculous. Why am I wide awake at two in the morning trying to figure something out that can be answered as soon as I get to work and open my computer? I’m literally stressing out about something that really makes no difference regardless of what the answer is. I kept telling myself, “Just let it go. You will deal with it tomorrow. This is not life or death.” But the self-talk made no improvements to my situation.
So instead of self-talk, I’ve learned that talking to God is better.
Throughout my few years of dealing with a heightened sense of stress, God has shown me the difference between talking about the situation with him and just talking to him. Instead of praying for God to resolve the situation or guide me to the best strategy to resolve it–praying about it–I learned to pray differently.
This truth took on a different meaning for me.
Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
It isn’t so much about me giving God my anxieties so he could be the magic fixer. It’s more about trusting him to heal my soul.
My prayers were no longer framed around my specific stress at that time. Instead, I would begin to talk to God about depending on him for all things and trusting him in every season. Whether this problem is solved or not, I want to be at peace in my life. I can only do that if I trust him.
God truly does care for you as a person. Your dilemma is not as concerning to him as you are.
I began to learn that I desired for God to deal with my lack of trust and desire for control more than I wanted him to deal with the problem. I desired peace and rest in my life. I wanted to actually be able to close my eyes and rest for the night.
Just simply changing the nature of my conversation with God began to change the way I handle my stress. There is actually a richer sense of peace knowing that it doesn’t matter whether or not the problem is fixed. You can just rest because God cares for you.
2. Embrace the Blessing of Your Weakness
Moments of stress and even anxiety are a reminder that we live in a fallen world. It’s broken. And that brokenness spills into our life. God never desired for us to stress about the things of life. When Jesus talks about why we shouldn’t worry in Matthew 6 it’s not out of him scolding us or reprimanding us. It is out of him showing how much he cares for us.
Part of him caring for us is him using our weakness for his glory. Often we desire for God to remove our hardships and weaknesses. But he can do far more in our lives by using our brokenness rather than removing it.
When Paul asks for God to remove his weakness God responds in an unexpected way.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
It’s not always easy to see in the moments of dealing with stress and anxiety that feels like its debilitating you, but God’s power is made perfect in those moments. His grace is washing over you.
These moments have actually caused me to cling to Jesus all the more. The ever present reminder is that my weakness can be turned into a moment of blessing. Because it’s through his grace and his power that I am being made whole. It’s not anything I can do myself. And, in some way, that’s freeing.
God has shown me more of who he is in my weakness than in my strength. He has shown me how much I desperately need him and during the times trying to fix it myself. I need to remember that.
It’s a humbling reminder that I can’t hold my own life together. But he can.
It takes our weaknesses for us to realize that we don’t have it all figured out. Even the best of coping mechanisms can fall short. And that’s okay. Maybe God meant for that to happen to show you that it’s not about your own strength or ability, but his.