Friday, March 6, 2015

5 Ways to be Blessed in the Stress: A Military Wife's Perspective

So. Stress. Let’s talk about that.
We’ve all felt it, right? Life gets real, real fast. Traumatic events. Loss. Broken hearts. Then there are the little stressors that just get under your skin like when a car pulls out in front of you, and then slows down! What’s with that?! Or the person at the drive in in front of you decides to order the entire store when all you want is a black coffee with no creamer or sugar. Geez people!
If you’ve never felt stress, where have you been? Tell me your secret! Turn on the news and I guarantee you’ll be taking meds for high blood pressure soon. The world is a mess, ick.
Stress doesn’t just come from things we experience or see. Certain types of food can cause our bodies to be stressed. Too much caffeine (Sigh of sadness). Sugar is the worst…so sad. Sugar is actually an anti-nutrient…it sucks nutrients out of our body and causes us to be sluggish, sick, and tired, but unable to get the kind of good hearty rest our bodies need, and a lack of good rest/sleep causes more stress on our body. A vicious cycle ensues!
No wonder the world has gone mad. We’re drinking some caffeine-filled beverage in one hand, eating something sugary with the other, couple that with a lack of sleep, our fast paced schedules, life’s issues, and we’re a big ball of stress just spewing all over the place.
Our environment, toxins in the air, and chemicals in the hygiene products we use every day can cause stress to our body. Nice, right?
The medical world even knows how serious our stress issue is, admitting that 80% or more of all disease and illness is stress related. How 'bout that? Insane!  
We can't live in a bubble, though, nor would I want to. Ok, maybe I would sometimes.

What does God say about stress? He says in 1 Peter 5:7 to cast all your burdens on him because he cares for you. He says to come to him for rest (Matthew 11:28-30). He says not to worry about anything, but pray about everything (Philippians 4:6&7).
When the American Medial Association says that 80% or more of all disease and illness is stress related, do we have any other choice but to give that junk over to God?
Being an Army wife, I know stress, and being the wife of a wounded warrior who struggles with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), well…let’s say stress and I are on a first name basis. 
Yes, life gets crazy, but I can’t seem to find a time, even in the stress, that I haven’t been blessed. I’d imagine if we all took the time to look past our stress we could see how we’re being blessed.

 Having a hard time seeing it? Wanna know how to be blessed in the stress? Here are 5 ways:

1: Be a blessing and Love others:
  • 1 Corinthians 13: 7 “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”  I'd add, No Matter What to that if I could.
  • In Matthew 14, after finding out his cousin, John the Baptist, had been killed, Jesus withdrew to be alone, but crowds followed Him. He didn't lash out in his grief, or tell them to go away. He saw their need. He knew a key to being blessed in the stress was to be a blessing to others, and to love those around Him.
2: Be content:
A good friend once told me the keys to being content were: Don’t Compete, Don’t Compare, Don’t Complain. That's a pretty good start, and to keep us from competing, comparing, and complaining, Paul defines contentment best here:
  • Philippians 4: 12-13 “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ,[d] who gives me strength.
3: Get in God’s Word

If we're believers, we have no excuse but to be students of God's Word.
    • Hebrews 4:12: For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
    • 2 Timothy 3:16:  All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.
4: Be intentional with your thoughts & words
I’m going to park right here for a second. As an author words are a HUGE deal to me. We create with them, and they have purpose and a meaning. Check this out: God created the world with his Words…and we're made in His image, meaning in part, that our words too, are powerful. He says we can speak life or death with our words (Proverbs 18:21), build up or destroy (Proverbs 12:6), and we're accountable for the words we speak (Matthew 12:36-37). Thoughts turn into words, so both are a  big deal. Our mind/thoughts/words need to be transformed and focused.
    • Romans 12: 2: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
    • Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
5: Forgive:
  • Matt 6: 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins
I don’t claim to understand all the ins and outs of this verse, but I will say, when we are able to kick our pride to the curb and forgive, there is some serious healing and stress relief that takes place. Sometimes we need to forgive, sometimes we need to ask for forgiveness, and often it's a combination of the two.

Here's the bottom line:

We can CHOOSE to be blessed in the stress. We choose love others, be content, get into God's Word, be intentional with our words & thoughts, and forgive.

I'm thankful for that choice, aren't you?


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