when stress has you stretched thin and sobbing over a gallon of ice cream
Boy, let me tell ya.
I marched through my week with fists balled and paint smeared beneath my eyes. I punched through my to-do list like a doped up Jackie Chan, relishing in each checkmark and cross-off on my to-do list. I managed to complete everything (woohoo!) and still had time to relax and plenty of energy to have fun!
[insert screeching halt here]
Um. I wish.
Unfortunately, that’s not how it went down.
School had me stressed to the max the other day. I had a to-do list a mile high and so many assignments due this week that I just wanted to curl up in a ball, binge-watch Friends, and eat away at my favorite Blue Bell ice cream, hoping that I wouldn’t turn out like Chandler Bing with a boring job that nobody cares about.
It was overwhelming. I wanted to cry. And the mountain seemed too steep to climb. (Heehee, I made a rhyme.)
In my mind’s eye, I was Jackie Chan. But in reality, I was singing Twenty One Pilots’ “Stressed Out.”
Ever been there? I bet you have.
Life can be too much sometimes, and the demands of the world can be too loud. We have responsibilities. We have things to do. We have tests to study for and families to take care of and jobs that want to suck our brains out.
So what’s a gal to do???
I met with God Monday morning before starting my week to ask him this thing. What do I do? I dished it all out and poured all of my stress and worry into His open hands. He listened, and He led me to a passage of Scripture that completely changed my attitude:
“Jesus taught his disciples, saying, ‘Listen to me. Never let anxiety enter your hearts. Never worry about any of your needs, such as food or clothing. For your life is infinitely more than just food or the clothing you wear. Take the carefree birds as your example. Do you ever see them worry? They don’t grow their own food or put it in a storehouse for later. Yet God takes care of every one of them, feeding each of them from his love and goodness. Isn’t your life more precious to God than a bird? Be carefree in the care of God!’” (Luke 12:22-24 TPT)
Be carefree in the care of God.
Pause for a moment. Let that settle over you, course through your veins, beat in your heart. Let the Truth of it cover you in a warm embrace, comforting and stilling the flutter in your chest.
Isn’t it like honey to your soul, like cool water in the middle of a desert?
When I read that sentence, my soul gave a big sigh and smiled, content like the end of a Thanksgiving meal. Isn’t that the way His Word is to us, though? Our bread? Our satisfaction? Our strength?
You are free to be carefree.
You have the King of the universe by your side.
You have the Great Warrior watching over you.
You have the Provider providing for you.
You are free to let go of the worry.
You are free to let go of the stress.
You are free to be carefree in the care of God, knowing that you are already victorious.
Do you get it? Are you listening?
Let’s take a look at another set of verses.
“But in my distress I cried out to the LORD ; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears. Then the earth quaked and trembled. The foundations of the mountains shook; they quaked because of his anger. Smoke poured from his nostrils; fierce flames leaped from his mouth. Glowing coals blazed forth from him. He opened the heavens and came down; dark storm clouds were beneath his feet. Mounted on a mighty angelic being, he flew, soaring on the wings of the wind. He shrouded himself in darkness, veiling his approach with dark rain clouds. Thick clouds shielded the brightness around him and rained down hail and burning coals. The LORD thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded amid the hail and burning coals. He shot his arrows and scattered his enemies; great bolts of lightning flashed, and they were confused. Then at your command, O LORD, at the blast of your breath, the bottom of the sea could be seen, and the foundations of the earth were laid bare. He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me. They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress, but the LORD supported me. He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me.” (Psalm 18:6-19 NLT)
Hey, you’re not the only one who knows what stress is like. Even King David, the man after God’s own heart, was crazed with stress. Like, thought-he-was-gonna-die-stressed-out. Or worse, finals-week-and-without-coffee-stressed-out.
Anyway, you know what David didn’t do? He did not throw in the towel and curl up in a fetal position. He did not throw things in frustration. He did not beat his head against a wall or snap at his family. And here’s the kicker. He did not try to do it all himself.
David cried out to God.
David met with God, and screamed, “I can’t do this, and I’m scared! Help me, Father!”
And then what happened?
Seriously, I’m asking. Go back and read those verses. What happened?
God heard him.
And the earth started shaking.
And the King came down to earth in a fit of fury.
And God defeated his enemies.
And. God. Rescued. David.
The Great Warrior heard David’s cries for help and literally moved Heaven and Earth to save him.
THAT’S MY GOD!!!!!
He is my loving Father, my faithful Friend, my worthy King. He bends His ear to hear me when I am in distress. He destroys everything in His path to rescue me.
MY GOD CARES FOR ME, SO I CAN BE CAREFREE IN HIS LOVE. MY GOD HEARS ME. MY GOD LOVES ME. MY GOD WILL ALWAYS SAVE ME.
He cares for you, sweetie, so you can be carefree. He’s got you. He will provide for you, protect you, strengthen you, and help you. And you can take that check to the bank and slap it down with a confident smile, because that’s a promise, honey.
The Faithful One will be faithful to you.
Okay, great. We got it. God cares for us, so we can be carefree in His love. Yeah, um, now what does that mean?
What do we do in the midst of those moments when stress has got us wound tight and tangled in fear?
1.) MEET WITH GOD.
I know it seems like you don’t have the time. Or you don’t feel like meeting with God. Push through it, and do it anyway. It makes a world of difference, I promise.
One of my favorite quotes is one from Martin Luther: “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”
2.) CRY OUT TO GOD.
Lay it all out there before Him. Go over your to-do list with Him (side note: praying over my to-do list every morning before I start working has been a game-changer!). Tell him everything that you have to do and how worried you are.
Lay. It. Before. Him.
And confess that you can’t do it alone. Tell Him that you need His help. Humble yourself, and lean on His strength instead of your own.
3.) READ HIS WORD.
His Word is our daily bread and light for our path. If you’re not in it, you’re starving. Stressing out is the equivalent of being hangry (hungry + angry) and needing God’s Word. (Tweet this!) Plus, how are you going to walk your path, or do everything you need to do, if you’re fumbling around in the dark.
Read His Word. Receive His comfort. Refresh your mind. Renew your strength.
4.) DECLARE HIS PROMISES.
One thing that has really helped my stress-level and negative self-talk is declaring God’s promises and affirmations. By declaring it, you’re convincing yourself of Truth, doing an act of faith, and telling the Devil to shove off. It’s a win-win-win.
Here are a few promises to get you started:
God will provide for me when I seek Him first. (Matthew 6:33)
God takes delight in me and sings over me with gladness. (Zephaniah 3:17)
God will strengthen me to do all that He has called me to do. (Philippians 4:13)
I know, I saved the hardest for last. But this one is so so so so so so so so sooooooo important. How is God supposed to hold your hand and help you if you have your fists clinched around your to-do list?
Get on your knees before God, and say, “Your kingdom come, your will be done. Not my will, but yours.”