What do I do about Stress?

Here is #30 of 31 Questions in 31 Days! To learn more about this 31 Day series, just search "31 Questions" in the search bar above or click here!

Q #30:  What do I do with stress that keeps pulling me away from God?

A:  This question addresses something that nearly every person who believes in God faces on some level.  While I can't know exactly what was in the questioner's mind, I have some suggestions:

Identify the source of your stress.  
Often, we experience stress when we believe negative messages our brain tells us.  While the mind is something that is not a physiological reality, our brains are impacted powerfully by chemicals that end up sending us messages that aren't true.  "I'm stupid."  "I'll never make it."  "I'll never make it past this problem."  "I need to do nothing because this is overwhelming."  "I need to escape in some unhealthy way to cope." Those messages send us into stress.  It's important to understand what is stressing you out and what it is you fear.

Write down what you fear.  
Maybe you're stressed out what someone will say in a conversation you need to have. Maybe you're struggling with some uncertain outcome or a decision you think is risky. Maybe an exhausting routine or schedule is what's got you stressed out and it needs changed.  Write down what you think will happen when you have that conversation, change the schedule or make the decision.  This may help you to see that you're fearing something that has little possibility of happening, or you may find a clear way to pray:  "God, give me courage when I talk to that person", "Please help me to remember that you determine my success on the job", or maybe, "Give me peace to trust you more with my money."

Claim the promises of scripture and pray through them.  
The scriptures give us almost countless promises that tell us the truth that our brains irrationally give us.  "We are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus."  "Fear not, for I am with you."  "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us..." "Trust in the Lord...for he will make your paths straight."  This is just scratching the surface--telling yourself these promises and many others is where you will be able to align yourself with what is true and applying them to the things that are causing you stress is where to begin.  Peace will enter in where stress and fear were reigning.

Connect with others.  
I just re-listened to Henry Cloud's talk given at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit back in August, hosted at my church.  In it, he talked about an experiment with monkeys. They were first subjected to stressful sounds, lights and other disturbing things that sent their stress levels through the roof. Then, the scientists put one of the monkey's "buddies" into the cage with them.  Their measurable stress dropped 50%!  You and I are wired in such a way that when we share our lives with others who care about us, it helps cut our stress dramatically. That's why connection through a small group or in friendship with those who also are living in the truths of God's Word can make such an incredible difference.
Listen, I know this is a simple 4-point plan for dealing with stress, but these are the kinds of things that will help anyone deal with some of the weightiest burdens in life.  If you find, after taking these steps in systematic fashion isn't helping, reach out to someone who can help--a pastor, a counselor, a wise and godly mentor.  This is the way I try to deal with the stress that I find in my life.

If you have other thoughts on dealing with stress, please feel free to comment below and let's help each other!

Check out more posts from the 31 Questions series on subjects as varied as marijuanainfidelity666the eternal destiny of children who diedealing with discouragement, cremationco-habitationbaptismsuicideprayer, the origins of scripturehell, workthe third heaventithingOld Testament salvationgiving in the Old Testament, reading Proverbsrecovering from failuretaking the Bible literallyunderstanding the parablesuniversalism, Bible credibility,disappointment with peoplerecovering spiritual directionfasting, getting closer to God, and even speaking in tongues! 

This coming Sunday at First Assembly Community Ministries, we will be changing the regular format for our service to accommodate questions from the congregation!  I can't wait.  Join us there on Sunday, February 1 for a morning of discovery on what we call Q Sunday for two unique services 9 and 11 AM.

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