Monday, September 19, 2016

The Post Where I Broach the Subject of People-Induced Stress

My son's balloon lasted all of 2 minutes this morning, and the "POP" that heralded its demise was music to my ears.

I am not balloonaphobic, or some sort of balloon bigot. It is just that the benefits of their delightfully cheap mode of entertainment is often outweighed by the obnoxious distraction they are when we have stuff to get done. Like getting ready for school, for example.

So when the kids discovered the treasury of old balloons stashed in the garage amongst God-only-knows-what, and then proceeded to slobber all over them before shoving their shimmering, slimy, limp balloons in my face to the chorus of "PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE," I was done. I thought of every single thing they had to accomplish before I would even contemplate touching one of those slobbery rubber specimens.

The kiddos were diligent and completed their tasks. I wiped the balloons off thoroughly, blew them up substantially (in hopes their lifespan would be diminished due to explosion), and handed them off to my husband to tie off since my arthritic fingers could not get the job done.

Then this morning my son comes in with a balloon he's blown up and asks me to tie it. I remind him who I am and what I am capable of, and he seeks out his dad. The balloon is tied, banished to the boy's bedroom, and promptly popped on the popcorn ceiling. Victory.

This morning, I empathized with the balloon.

For almost a year now I have submitted to a regiment of nutrition and lifestyle guidelines in an effort to heal my body of the chronic illness of rheumatoid arthritis.* As is typical for most RA sufferers, after years and years of medication the medicines stopped working. Then one day God directed some people into my life that put me on a path to healing. A path with strict nutrition guidelines, rest prescriptions, and the limiting of stress. A ministry family with 4 kids- what could go wrong?

The nutrition has become second nature, and my lack of coffee and sugar of any kind really doesn't stress me out like it once did. My daily allotment of rest is a little tougher to handle since I don't have any substances to prop me up. I used to "run on dunkin'" and now I walk tortoise-like through each day hoping to get as much done as possible.

It's the stress that I have had to watch closely. Because out of all three guidelines stress is the most unpredictable.

And I don't think this is true for just me.

I have had to view my life through latex. I have had to monitor the pressure in my balloon. I have had to decide exactly what to fill my life with because if I am careless I will explode, and that means physical pain.

I am convinced I am not the only person struggling with stress, so I am going to share with you lovely readers what I have found to be an incredibly helpful tool (outside the Bible directly) to handle people-induced stress.

So you know what to look for
in the bookstore.
Brant Hansen is a hilarious human being. I haven't met him personally, but I listen to his podcast, which is pretty much the same thing. I am sure I will see him someday and he will know precisely who I am since he talks to me so frequently. His writing has me scrambling for a pen to underline, and annoying my husband with "Listen to this!" He is transparent and  definitely unafraid to be a "non-example" of what to do. I purchased his book Unoffendable after hearing his segment on The Eric Metaxas Show podcast. What I expected was a methodical walk through the Scriptures to prove his point that we are not at all entitled to our anger. What I received was a confrontation, not to my beliefs, but to the way I was living- and I didn't even know I was doing it. I realized that if I really took the Bible seriously on this point it would change my life immediately. I ordered the book and loved it. He didn't waste time making up new truths. He said, "Here's what the Bible says about how we should view our anger and this is what it looks like in real life." It made me think and practice, and I can see a difference.

It's chapter titles like this that keep me reading...
The chronically ill part of me loves this benefit- when I am not wasting my energy and life clutching the offenses against me, I have more energy and patience for the things I love. People-induced stress is one of the biggest drains on our lives. Since we can't take the "people" part out, why not follow God's prescription of forgiveness?

I wish I could sum the book up in a sentence, but I don't want to cheat you out of reading it. It is a quick and witty read which complements the depth of its meaning quite perfectly.

What I will say is this:

Today is a new day. A day to practice forgiveness in the little things because some day we will have to practice forgiveness for something big, and won't it be easier if our forgiveness muscles aren't all atrophied and whatnot? 

A day to face that same person who gets our goat over and over again and forgive them before they ever open their mouth.

A day to remember that we have been saved not because we are the moral superior to an
yone, but because God loves us fully and completely through the work of His Son, Jesus Christ.

A day to remember that we have already received the best news we will ever get, and to let that color our response to the infractions against us that pale in comparison to our eternal salvation.

A day to refuse to be shocked by the callousness and carelessness of humanity, and to let things go because haven't we all been callous and careless and isn't it forgiveness to which God calls us?

A day to trade our anger for action. Anger doesn't accomplish the righteousness God requires (James 1:20). Love in action does that.

A day to quit our occupation of judge. Retire! Let someone else discern people's motives and judge people's hearts- someone like God. We really aren't that good at it anyway.

A day to let go of our imaginary control. God knows our issues. He knows what has gone down. He is a God of mercy and a God of justice- just look at the cross.

A day to wipe the scoreboard of offense clean and look at our offender through the eyes of the One who made them.

A day to rest in who God is, and who you are in Him. You are forgiven and loved completely.

* In case you are wondering- yes, the program is working.