“Most of us desperately want to feel capable of handling the trials and problems of life on our own. We want to feel equipped to deal with what life throws at us, and we take pride in accomplishments of doing so. But it is often that exact determination and pride that causes unnecessary stress. In fact, some of us would rather risk falling flat on our faces than admit we need help.” (Stressed Less Living, page 199)
This is how Tracie Miles starts off chapter 10. It is such a true statement. How many times has the world told us that as women that we need to be strong and capable in every area. We need to have a profession. We need to be a great wife and mother. And be available to sit on various committees at the school and in the community. And of course we need to be doing all this with a positive attitude!
I like how Tracie asks what was my breaking point? When did I realize that I could not do it all and still remain sane. The story in 1 Kings 17 about the poor widow is provided as an example of a woman in a hopeless situation. This is a great example of a person who had nothing and yet still obeyed the Lord.
So, when was my breaking point? I have mentined this before in previous posts, but my breaking point was about 18 months ago when I was completely overwhelmed by all that needed to be done and everyone’s expectations of me. Or more realistically, the expectations that I thought everyone had for me and of course, the ones I personally placed on myself.
At this time, I was angry and very unhappy. Home life was miserable as I took out my frustrations of my choices on my husband and son. Nothing was going right. No one was cooperating with my plans and everyone (or so it seemed) found fault in everything I did. It was never enough. I needed to do more and be more to more people. I was stretched so far that I honestly thought I was going to have a breakdown. I felt like a complete failure. For most people around me, they did not know the pain and unhappiness that I was feeling. It was only the people closest to me.
I remember admitting to myself that something had to change. And talking it over with my husband that changes had to be made at home as well as the office.
I guess this really highlights the stress of working with your spouse all day and bringing home work at night. There is no clear line between home and work. I remember getting the advice from various sources that I needed to delegate. I know that I was at the point if one more person told me to delegate, I was going to scream. How could I delegate and expect someone else to do it my way. (yeah, I laugh about that now!)
But God had a plan for me. He knew my pain. He knew my unhappiness. Looking back I know this now, but at the time I felt very far from him. I did not feel that he was active in my life. Again, the results of poor choices on my part.
For about six months or so I remember trying to figure out how to change things. How to improve my life. Delegating work related tasks was easy as I already knew who could take them over. But there was a process and that took time and energy. During this time I remember speaking to other women officers (pastors in The Salvation Army) and one comment in particular stuck out to me. One of my friends said that she was concerned about how angry I was at the situation. And I thought why is this sticking out? I thought there would be other areas or problems that she could have commented on. So, I tucked that comment away and kept trying to figure this out on my own.
About a year ago, I remember asking the women of my church if they would be interested in doing a women’s Bible Study. I would run the same Bible study twice a week — one evening and one daytime to hopefully accommodate everyone. It was just put as an insert into the weekly bulletin and I was shocked by the response. The first week I had 8 or so ladies express an interest. I was excited to do this new ministry as I had never lead a Bible Study before.
Over the summer I found myself praying more for this study and the other Bible Studies that were being planned at the church. And I started to feel more peaceful and less angry. Shocking how spending time with God creates peace in your life!!
I committed to spending more time with God, reading his Word and devotionals. It was through one of these devotionals that I saw the advertisement for the online Bible Studies. I was not sure if I could do it. I tried to do the ‘Made to Crave’ by Lysa TerKereust, but could not keep up and dropped out. I did finish reading that book eventually.
When the notice came up regarding this current study on ‘Stressed-Less Living’, I knew I had to make the commitment and effort to do this study. Not for anyone else, but for me. WOW! has God ever used this study to grow my relationship with him!
When I look back at the last 10 months I can see so much of God’s work in my life. I am still not completely where I want to go, but I feel that as I going in the right direction. I still have days where I feel stressed, but I can usually pin-point the reason and it usually is the fact that I am trying to do it on my own.
“I have come to understand that God cannot use people greatly until he has broken them deeply. And when we embrace our brokenness, we are ready for breakthrough.” (Page 207)
I feel that I have experience the breaking process and now God is using that experience in teachimg me the importance of giving him the controls for my life. It is through this journey this past year that I have felt more like a pastor than anytime in the last seven years of ministry.
I thank God for his unending patience and understanding while waiting for me to admit that I needed help. I am thankful that he sent me to this community to be surrounded by friends he has placed in my path to go through this part of my journey with me.