As I think about the contents of chapter 11 of Stressed-Less Living, I am reminded of a couple of things. First, there is only one week left and secondly, have I really learned everything to make my life less stressful. The chapter is titled ‘The Rest Button’. Ever have those days when you just want to go back to bed and start again? I have. And even though I have learned a lot from this study, I still have days like that.
Over the last several days I have felt more stressed than any other time during this study. I’m not sure if part of the reason is that the study is coming to an end or if there are changes that I still need to make. Been praying about this and trying to keep stress level under control, but to be honest, this has been a struggle this week.
But back to the chapter. Tracie sums it all up in six easy, simple, straightforward — yet hard steps.
1. Realign Your Life – “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
Is my life aligned with God’s Word? I think the biggest discovery during this study has been how little I read the Word of God. I have been doing a quick devotional in the morning, and I study portions of scripture when I am preaching. But to sit and read and meditate on God’s word has really taken a back seat in my life and priorities. Over the last couple of months, I have found myself reading Scripture thoughout the day. I think this has helped keep me more focused and priorities where they should be and not on all the ‘stuff’ that has been cluttering my life. I think over the last few days I have allowed meetings to fill my schedule to a point where I am mentally exhausted and have not given my relationship with God the attention it deserves.
“With growth comes problems, and stress. And with all those stumbling blocks, we fall out of God’s Word, allowing our lives to get off track and out of alignment.” (Page 213)
Aligning my life to God takes a daily commitment and sometimes recommittment throughout the day. Life can be crazy and overwhelming, but I need to keep my eyes on God during the craziness.
2. Recognize Your Need – “May your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need.” Psalm 79:8b
This is a hard step for me. Recognizing that I can’t do it on my own and needing to ask for help. “God never meant for us to be self-sufficient. Dependable, yes. Responsible, yes. Confident, yes. Self-sufficient, no.” (page 213). The world teaches us that we need to be self-sufficient, but this is not God’s plan for our lives. Yes I need to be dependable and responsible, but I have to also realize that I can not do anything without God. It would be so much easier if everyone around me thought the same way. But I need to be strong in my relationship with God in order to fight the pull of the world to do it all by myself.
Admitting that I need help is a daily challenge for me, but I feel that I am getting better. Praying that God will continue to show me where I need to surrender to his will for my life.
3. Adjust Your Focus – “Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding.” Isaiah 40:28
I love how Tracie tells us that I need to take my eyes off my circumstances and put them back on God. I had to re-read this section a couple of times to really let this sink in. The question that kept coming to me was how often do I like a situation or person take up my complete focus. Looking back I can see how I have given the situation/person control over my life by taking my focus off of God.
I hear myself all the time telling my 9-year old son to focus on the task that I want him to do. Now I am wondering how many times that God is saying that to me!!
4. Be Filled with the Spirit – “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.” (Galatians 5:16)
I am pulled daily to be self-sufficient and daily struggle with the overwhelming need to worry about things. Many days I have unrealistic ideas of what I can accomplish. Unfinished work results in stress. Worry is almost like breathing. It has been given a constant presence in my life. I know that I need to not worry about things that are outside of my control, but some habits are hard to break!
“If you have asked God to fill you with the Holy Spirit and you have given him dominion over your life, you can be confident in knowing that he has filled you according to his promise.” (page 215) I love how this starts off with that little word ‘if’. If I have asked God to fill me with the Holy Spirit and given him dominion, then confindence should be present.
It all comes back to what I choose to do. I have found that the more times that I have to stop what I am doing and ask God for help and strength, the easier my day goes. It is only when I try to do things without inviting God into the task that I run into difficulties.
5. Be Faithful in Your Prayer Life – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
The importance of a healthy prayer life has become very clear during this study. God will answer our prayers — in his time and in his way. But a healthy prayer life is more than just taking a few moments to give my requests to God or to whine when things are not going my way. A healthy prayer life has to be a two-way street. I have to take time to commune with God and most important listen to him. I wonder how many prayers that God has answered that I have not heard because I was too busy trying to do it all.
Taking time throughout the day to just pause and regroup through a meaningful conversation with God has helped me tremendously over the last few months. I know that when I start to feel overwhelmed, that I need to stop everything and just take a few moments to refocus.
Philippians 4:6-7 states “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and mind as you live in Christ Jesus.” Such wise words that are very hard to put into practice when you are so used to worrying and trying to control things. Don’t worry — just pray!
6. Believe God is Who He Says
When life gets busy and tough, it is hard to remember that God is who he says he is. He has not changed. Why do I ever doubt him?
“What we view as God’s absence or lack of quickness to change our circumstances or fix our problems is really God waiting for the proper time to act on our behalf, while simultaneously waiting for us to acknowledge our need for rescue.” (page 216)
Sometimes God takes longer than I would like to answer my prayers and requests. Okay, probably takes longer all the time as I am still so impatient. But I need to be more patient while awaiting God’s response. By admitting that I need him everyday, with every area of my life shows my love, dependency and gratefulness for all that he does on my behalf.
Having faith to trust God in all things shows my faith and love that he is who he says he is.
This study has been a great exercise in really looking at my life and more importantly my relationship with God. Highlighting the things that are unimportant and taking up my time and energy was also a very important exercise. While there are sometimes when I feel that others are expecting more from me than I can give, I need to put this aside and just stay focus on what God expects from me.
I know that if I meet God’s expectations, then nothing else really matters. Hard lessons to put into practice when there are moments of doubts in my ability, but I will continue to journey forward knowing that when I stumble, God will be there to help me up.