Stress & Peace



I yelled across the house. Again.

I repeated harshly what I expected my kids to do. Or not to do. Yet again.

Somebody let me down by not doing what they said they were going to do.

I let myself down by forgetting.

I hurried the kids out the door because I hate to be late.

I snapped at my husband two minutes after he'd walked in from work. Again.

I reacted emotionally when someone's standards weren't mine.

Projects replaced people. Even the people I love most.

I wanted him to read my mind.

I let stress and the desire for perfection dictate my reactions and decisions, driving an immovable wedge between who I want to be and how I respond. I want to serve my community, starting with my family and expanding outward to my friends, my church, my town. And so I do. But too often I don't do it with pure joy.

I see my son who doesn't like to be still, just sit in a swing. He lets me push him most of the time. Sometimes he tries to pump his legs. Either way, he'll swing for longer than he'll do most anything else. This continues to surprise me because this stillness in the swing is unlike anything else in him. I realize I need that same kind of stillness in my heart, even though it's not the natural me. 

Instead, I too often let stress steal my joy. I let perfection make me anxious.

And then I remember ...

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your  gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about  anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,  present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all  understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." --Philippians 4:4-7


That goes against everything naturally in me. It goes against my perfectionism. It goes against my desire to tend to the details. It goes against me thinking I know what's best. In "Crazy Love," Francis Chan was right. It's perplexing. But it's straight from God.

"But then there’s that perplexing command: 'Rejoice in the Lord always. I  will say it again: Rejoice!' (Phil. 4:4). You’ll notice that it doesn’t  end with '... unless you’re doing something extremely important.' No,  it’s a command for all of us, and it follows with the charge, 'Do not be  anxious about anything' (v. 6). That came as a pretty staggering  realization. But what I realized next was even more staggering. When I am  consumed by my problems -- stressed out about my life, my family, and my  job -- I actually convey the belief that I think the circumstances  are  more important than God’s command to always rejoice. In other words,  that I have a 'right' to disobey God because of the magnitude of my  responsibilities."


I say I trust God. And then I steal back control, trying to make it -- whatever it is today -- work my way. I say I believe God's promises. And then I react emotionally, not waiting or listening long enough to consult him. I say I'm sorry. And the I do it again.

After a morning of little fires I mostly created myself, I started trying to put them out with my emotions. Logic and truth were thrown out the window. I called my husband to vent but as soon as I hung up the phone I realized he'd helped turn my frustrated mind to a perspective that can only come from God.

And guess what. Yep. My day took a turn for the better. My kids were easier to be around. I didn't want to verbally chew out someone who disappointed me. I apologized. I channeled the truths seeping out of my heart into action that would better serve people. I experienced the peace that transcends all understanding right there in my mini van. And with my kids in the booth at Taco John's. And in the grocery store with my kids.

It's quiet now after a stressful morning. Literally, the kids are resting, perhaps even sleeping. And my heart is resting in the presence of God. I wondered this morning {even aloud to a friend} when I'll learn that stress just creates conflict in my soul and that conflict just overflows into other people's days. Who knows when I'll learn, but I do know how I'll learn: Rejoice in the Lord always. ... in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,  present your requests to God. I'll say it again. Over and over. Like the constant {yet still!} motion of my boy swinging. Because I do believe in the peace that follows. And, you never know, I may just surprise someone, even myself.


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