I’m too blessed to be stressed. Stress is a killer. Let go and let God….sometimes easier said than done, right? A co-worker of mine came into our department the other day waving a white flag as a sign of surrender. He was worn out, tired, willing to give in. Today was my day off and I spent most of the day on the sofa with an aching back, in despair and feeling pretty unmotivated. My problem was stress. I can generally manage it pretty well but sometimes I let it get to me. It typically manifests itself in my shoulder, arm, neck and lower back. As I usually do when I’m struggling with something, I turned to God’s word on the subject. I listened to several podcasts on surrender and letting go and learned that there are three different causes of stress.
The first one and the most difficult one is when we are confronted with “uncontrollable circumstances”. Uncontrollable circumstances run the gambit from being stuck in traffic or flight delays to terminal illness, death of a loved one, divorce or a bad economy. We typically respond to these types of stressors that can’t be changed, eliminated or ignored in one of two ways; either we ratchet up our attempts to control or we give up in despair and have a big ol’ pity party! The minister in the podcast used the term “we swallow our pain and then we wallow in it!”
The second cause of stress is “dealing with uncooperative people”. They just can’t seem to get with the program; they are life’s crazy makers. We all know them, we all have them and we all have to live with them because we’re never going to change them.
The final cause of stress is “unexplainable” pain…why me, why this, why now?
So what’s got me all knotted up this week? The first thing is the tense and uncertain environment that I work in. The second thing is I have a young friend who is battling brain cancer right now and I’m not feeling very optimistic about his prognosis. The third and reoccurring thing is, I always have more month than I have money.
What I learned in my listening today is that the only way we can minimize stress or avoid it altogether is to let go of our control, to practice acceptance and contentment and to let God be God in the situation. This is a daily battle for most of us but there is a popular prayer of surrender called The Serenity Prayer that can help. Many people recognize this prayer by the first four lines but what I discovered today is there are actually eight more lines to the prayer. Here is it in its entirety.
The Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking as He did this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
After repeating this prayer a few times, my load feels lighter, my future looks brighter and the pain in my back is subsiding. Once again I realize that I am too blessed to be stressed.