Dictionary.com defines stress as “ mental, emotional, or physical strain or tension.”
I get the “strain” and “tension” thing . . . the gap between what is and what could or should be. And no doubt, stress goes up when the stakes are high – when the outcome really matters. Unchecked stress can take a physical toll in addition to robbing our joy. Hypertension, insomnia, jaw and tooth pain, hair loss, intestinal problems and even twitching can be stress related. In every corner of my world, I see stress. Businesses and ministries stressed with growth or liquidation problems (you’ll have one but never both!) Prodigal children. Marriages blowing up. Guys who need to get help but won’t. Health issues . . . on my list, because I’m 65 and statistically, I’m among the 80% of older Americans have at least one significant health issue.
But here’s one thing I figured out. Time (or the lack of it) is a huge part of the stress equation and often, we can do something about it.
We stress because of deadlines imposed by others and ourselves. Some of us are addicted to progress. If you’re a GTD (get things done) person who makes lists, sets goals, and self-imposes deadlines, you’re doing it to yourself. Having deadlines put there by others is bad enough, but then we make matters worth by adding our own? Time pressure does to stress what pressure does to cooking. Accelerates and intensifies. Think about the stress in your life. If there were fewer deadlines . . . if there was more time, wouldn’t your stress level go down?
Take a minute and write down three things that you’re stressed about today. Now ask yourself this question “What would happen if I had a later deadline and more time?” If the deadline was imposed by someone else, consider emailing them and asking for an extension. If it’s self-imposed, simply move it out and cut yourself some slack.
Sarah Evans, speaking for God in Jesus Calling says . . .
“I died to set you free, and that includes freedom from compulsive planning.”
John Ortberg quotes Dallas Willard:
“Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day.”
“You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”
Humble yourself. Ask your boss for more time on the project. Things you want to get done . . . stretch out your timeframe and reduce the stress you’re putting on yourself.
Prayer – Father, please give us the wisdom to see how we’re putting pressure on ourselves you never intended to be there. Help us breathe Father. Give us the courage to ask for more time from our superiors and from ourselves. Jesus, we have no Scripture describing your running or even walking fast. Please give us your peace and patience. In your beautiful name. Amen.
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