By Daniel Thomas, CGS Musician
I am stressed out.
This month is a perfect storm of scheduling that has left me three steps behind on almost every task I have, and running on even less sleep than my insomniac body and mind normally gets. When I was younger, I (like many others) thrived on this stress, and I even gained energy during these times. It is that adrenaline, that excitement, that lets us pull all-nighters to write a paper or cram for a test, that doesn’t mind staying at work the extra couple of hours to get the project proposal done, that can clean the house and do all the laundry, and after all that can go out for a beer with our friends, then get up the next morning and do it all again. Now I want to chuck it all in the air and go crawl under the covers until April.
Perhaps it’s me getting older, or perhaps it’s that my overcrowded schedule now affects not just me, but my family. But what I’ve also found is, while my younger self also thrived on sharing just how stressed I was with everyone I knew (and this was before social media), my older self wants to keep it to myself. Put my head down and get it all done as best I can.
There’s an argument to be made on both sides of this: if I don’t let people know that I’m struggling, how can they offer me support and help? Surely my friends, my family, my co-workers would be more than willing to reach out and lend a hand when things get tough. I know that they would, and I’m grateful and appreciative for them. On the other side (and this is the side that currently prevails), what do I really have to complain about? I have a job, a loving family, a home, and my health, and I’m not in imminent danger of losing any of those things. Even at my most stressful times, I recognize I’m in better shape than billions of other people. So why is there the impulse – within me, and within so very many people, especially on social media – to not just share our struggles, but to prove that we’re the most stressed? Half of the posts I see are about what’s gone wrong with someone’s day – not directly reaching out for help, not directly asking for prayers – but the passive-aggressive “look how hard it is for me” trolling for “aw, poor you” comments and clicks on the sad face. Is this how we “win” today?
The verse I think of when in these situations is Galatians 5:22-23:
22 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.
I use a variation of this when I pray with Joshua at night – I ask God to help us be loving, tolerant, forgiving, kind, and thoughtful. I try and remember that no matter how stressed we might get, no matter how “bad” things seem to be (and I use the quotes to again remind myself how lucky we actually are), that the path Jesus walked was lined with positivity, and that trying to salve our bruised souls through a competition is only going to add to our struggles and burdens.
I hope that when you feel stressed or overburdened that you can simply reach out to your loved ones and say “I need a little help.” I think you’d be surprised at the response.
Christ the Good Shepherd
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