Posts Tagged ‘stress’

I know this one guy.  He’s one of those people who is always running around.  He has a job, serves at his church, has a social life and a lot of other things that pull at him from seemingly every direction.  He never seems to rest, and is almost always stressed out or tired.  Actually, come to think of it, you probably know this guy, too.  He is probably every guy (or girl) you’ve ever met.  He’s probably you.  In fact, you’re probably hoping that this will be a short article so that you can get back to something else that’s demanding your attention.

The question is, how did we get here?  I don’t know about you, but my life is fairly busy.  I work, lead a young adult group, and help lead a youth group.  I am generally teaching twice a week (sometimes three times a week) along with having a full time job in IT.  I have wonderful friends who would like to spend time with me.  There are teenagers and twenty-somethings who seek me for advice and guidance.  I am a fairly busy man.  Don’t get me wrong, I ike what I do, so I’m not really complaining about it, I’m just setting the scene.

I think I hit the main problem with a lifestyle like this.  I like it.  In fact, I really like it.  I truly enjoy the lunches, dinners, meetings, group times, study sessions… all of the things that make ministry difficult and time consuming.  If I didn’t like these things, I would stop doing them.  But how long can I (or you) keep up this pace?  What happens when we start to lose our footing, or our momentum?

I think we need breaks.  Not necessarily long breaks, but we need breaks.  A couple of weeks ago I asked some of the other leaders in my groups to take over for a bit.  I’m in the middle of planning a wedding and looking for a house, so I need all of the extra time I can find.  I am grateful for these people who are helping me with the teaching and planning of these ministries while I take a short sabbatical.  One of the things I started to notice once I shared the responsibilities is that I felt free again.  Not in a “see you later, sucka” kind of freedom, but I noticed that I don’t need to lead everything all of the time.

photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Just tell the intern I'm looking at houses

Since I have these people around me who are capable of teaching and leading, I should use them more often.  In fact, they have been asking to help out more often, and allowing them to step up not only helps me, but it also helps them.  What an amazing concept.

Now that I see that I have people around me who can take charge and lead these groups, maybe I will plan for a couple of these breaks every once in a while.  I know I can use the time off to regroup and refocus.  Also, I can help others to grow as leaders while I recharge my own batteries.

Do you take breaks?  How do you plan them out?  I’d love to hear how you guys do it.

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As I write this, I sit amazed.  God has been very good to me.  Among the blessings of life and salvation, He has allowed me to be in a relationship with a great woman.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Not necessarily an accurate representation of Hannah and me Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Hannah and I are in the middle of planning our wedding and we couldn’t be more excited.  We have hit some snags, nothing serious, just planning and logistical problems and typical financial issues. Most of them come from the fact that there are some key points to this process that are fairly unique to our situation.

Hannah and I got engaged four weeks ago and our wedding is just over six weeks from now.  We are also getting married in another state, on the other side of the country.  We also need to find a place to live once we get married.  There are other issues, involved, but that’s the general idea.  But, God has been very good.  He has blessed us in so many ways, some small, some huge, over the past few weeks, and it has been awesome watching the Master work.  You see, it is not always easy to trust in God.  Trying to plan a small destination wedding has a lot of benefits.  We do not have to worry about tables, chairs, decorations, music, brides maids, groomsmen (we do have a best-man and a maid-of-honor though) and a myriad of other details most couples worry about.

That, in itself, is a blessing.  But we have to find accommodations and flights, rental cars, places to eat, all without ever setting foot in the same side of the country we are planning to visit.  That gets difficult.  Especially when you’re talking about doing this for twenty people.

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This guy is probably planning a wedding

But, in the midst of all of the headaches, God has continually come through. We have found places for everyone to stay, rides for everyone travelling out there, and all of the other details are falling into place.  We still have to find a place to live once we get married, but I’m not worried.  God has been faithful and generous so far.  There is no reason to doubt Him or lose faith as far as that’s concerned.

I guess that’s what Jesus meant when He said not to be anxious in life. There are so many things in this world to cause worry and anxiety, even if you aren’t planning a wedding.  Life brings all kinds of troubles and concerns.  But the same God who created all things is still at work in our lives, and He will continue to take care of us.  Just keep praying and keep your focus on Jesus.  Hes got it covered.

Pressure

Posted: January 8, 2011 in Christian Living, General Life
Tags: , , ,

Image: Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s a new year and I’m trying to get back on track with life. I know my dedication waned over the past couple of months, and my shell is starting to crack a little. The problem is, I tend to bullishly trudge forward in life with the things that need my attention. I have a handful of things that take a lot of my attention, such as work, ministry, girlfriend… and I push forward with a sense of duty and expectancy.

I sometimes let other important things fall away as my tunnel-vision focuses in on the job at hand. I forget to actually take care of myself, and my effectiveness plummets in return. I let my stress level rise, while my resting time diminishes. The idea of a teapot comes to mind. I sit on the burner, maximizing pressure as I maximize effectiveness. Eventually things get to the point where I have to blow off steam before I explode, but do I ever move off the burner? No way, there are things to do. I can’t take a break. Someone ordered tea and they’re going to get it. Even if it destroys me.

The problem is that I just keep the fire turned on high, and the pressure up. I know I need to turn things down for a while so the pressure will die down. I need to be refilled so I can really be productive, but to remove myself from the fire, even for a while will cause me to lose productivity right now. I can think clear enough to know that I will run out of steam eventually, but people are waiting for their tea. I have a job to do.

Life is a series of decisions. Choices need to be made, and usually, something has to give. Do you feel the pressure? Do you take down time? Do you deal with time in a healthy manner?

I performed my first wedding this past weekend.  An old Army buddy asked me if it would be possible to get my license to perform the ceremony, a thought that hadn’t ever really crossed my mind until then.  I went to my church’s pastors and asked them if they would help me through the process, and they obliged.  So, I told my friend I was able to do it.  We were all pretty stoked about the idea, but for me, nervousness crept in quickly.  And by nervous, I mean really nervous.  I haven’t ever been more nervous about anything in my life.  I think the stress is what caused the upset stomach I dealt with for 5 days.  I didn’t want to screw up the start of two people’s life together.  In front of all their friends and family.  And on camera.  Not with Youtube and Failblog lurking in the shadows.  So I was nervous.

Nervousness can be fairly destructive, ruining many experiences, or even causing people to forego certain experiences altogether.  Fear is a big motivator, but it is also a big de-motivator.  For me, the two are closely linked.  I get nervous when my fears take hold of my thoughts and run rampant.  All I can think about is how horribly wrong things can go, and how everything is going to suck, and nothing good will come of anything.  My irrational fears push aside my rational thought until all I’m left with is doubt.  The problem is that when I start to go down this road, my view becomes very narrow, and all I see before me is failure.  The worst part about all of it, is that I forget that there are friends around me to help and support me.  I lose sight of the joys in my life, and the opportunities laid out before me.  I get caught up in the negative and forget about any positive.  That’s not a good place to dwell.  The stress takes a toll on my body, and my mind.  It’s not healthy to live under fear, nervousness and anxiety.

Jesus said we should not worry.  He instructs His followers to leave things to God, and allow Him to take care of it all.  Jesus wants us to live our lives unburdened with stress and fear.  These things will drag a man down and keep him from enjoying life.  Trusting in God does not mean He takes away all pain and suffering, it means that we trust that He will bring us through.  When we actually trust in God, we can let go of the worry, the fear, the stress. It isn’t easy to give it up (which is why I’m writing my second blog entry about stress in a little over a month) but we need to, if we plan on living a fruitful life.  The fear will keep us away from the beauty of life.  We must rise up and not allow our doubts to control us.  We need to follow God when He pushes us forward, not wondering how it will work out, but trusting that He knows how.  Our job is to go where led, not to come up with excuses about how things could fail.

There were many times over the past few months where I tried to figure out how to bail on doing this wedding.  I was so stressed and worried about it that it actually made me sick for the better part of a week.  I made the decision to do it, so I had to follow through; plus, there was no time to call in a backup a week before the wedding.  I am so glad I decided to stick with it.  The wedding was in Oregon, a place I have never been before, but had heard a lot about.  If I didn’t go do this wedding, I would have missed seeing the Pacific Ocean again (it’s been many years since I have seen it).  I would have missed visiting a place where the weather was cool all day long, the trees and fields were green and lush, the people were friendly and only slightly odd… I would have missed a lot of wonderful things.  I was reunited with old friends, and met new ones.  I even had the honor to be an integral part of the new life two people will now share as one.  Not many people can say that.  I could have missed all of that.  I am grateful that my friends wanted me to be a part of their lives in such an amazing way.  I am grateful that God placed me in the situations He did, so I could be able to legally perform weddings in the first place. If only I would have given my fears and doubts to God, I would not have been as nervous and I would have been able to enjoy the weekend even more.  Maybe that is a lesson I will keep and apply over the rest of my life.  I don’t want to miss out on amazing blessings just because I can only see how things can go wrong.

Stressful

Posted: April 28, 2010 in General Life, Ministry
Tags: , , ,

Have you ever been on a plane?  There is usually someone who stands in front of the passengers and talks even though nobody is paying any attention.  There is one thing, in particular, though that seems to always stick out to me.  Something that never made a whole lot of sense.  This person keeps telling me that if there is a loss of cabin pressure, masks will magically fall from the ceiling to deliver much needed oxygen.  Simple enough, but they always say I should put my mask on before helping someone else put on theirs.  That seems pretty mean.  It’s like laughing at someone walking as you drive by because they don’t have a car (not that I do that every time I pass people walking).

Life is stressful.  I said it.  I’ll stand by it.  Jesus directs us to live without worry, but I have not quite mastered that yet.  I would like to think that I worry less than I did a decade ago, and probably even a couple of years ago, but it seems that the older I get, the more stress I have.  Also, the floor gets farther away, but that’s a different post for a different time.  I’m here to talk about stress today.

I have a lot on my plate, and things never seem to actually get easier.  I have a normal job, I serve at my church and I have a social life.  I don’t seem to be juggling it all very well lately.  I have a lot of things to do, and I never seem to have enough time to do them all.  That seems to be a common mantra for this modern world.  I hear it a lot.  Why do we seem to run around so much?  What happened to relaxation and quiet times?  We live in a new society where we  stay connected at all times to all people.  Cell phones, text messages, e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, blogs…  the list goes on.  How many ways are people able to reach you?  Do you ever shut everything off?  I know I don’t.

I think there are major issues with this new lifestyle of constant availability.  Where do we find time to rest?  If your boss/friend/family member/random person… can get a hold of you through some constantly monitored communication tool at any time of day, how do we even start to look for rest?  Do we even know what real rest looks like?  I think the key to finding a worry free life is rest.  Real rest.  Godly rest.  Jesus taught that we should not worry, but we set ourselves up to worry.  God never intended our lives to be so crazy.  Who turned us into a community of crazy people running around constantly with no true purpose?  Why do we continue to fall in line with society?  Why don’t we rest?

I am a single guy.  It has its merits, one of which is the availability to do whatever anyone asks me to do, whenever they ask.  I hear the “you’re not busy, you don’t have kids” argument so often that I want to scream when people even think about speaking those words.  Yet, I am single.  I have no wife, no kids and no dog.  Because of these apparent deficiencies I have busied myself with other things.  I work long hours, helping people and trying to minister to those whom God has put in my care.  I leave my house around 8am and get home around 10 or 11pm.  That’s my schedule most weekdays.  I spend at least 6 hours doing church things on Sunday and spend my Saturdays running around catching up on the things I didn’t get to during the week.  I am single.  I have no kids.  I have no built-in excuse to decline helping others.  I have no shield from the masses needing support or wanting help.  I also have a hard time turning people down.  I like people, and love helping others.  This can lead to a very stressful existence.

I recently took a break and went with a friend to his cabin in the woods for the weekend.  No cell phone, no computer.  That means no calls, no e-mail, no Facebook, no Twitter, no way for people to bother me.  It was amazing.  I brought my Bible and another book.  Rest.  Real rest.  Godly rest.  I felt at peace and able to hear that small, still voice again.  It was beautiful, but it didn’t last.  Once I got home I was thrown back into the daily grind and hit the ground running.  It has only been a few weeks, but it feels much longer since I was able to get away.

I have a hard time figuring out how to balance doing things with not doing things, but I am getting better.  I know that I need to find more time to relax and that I need to regularly focus on God, but life keeps getting in the way.  I know God wants me to have life and have it abundantly, but I think the idea is a more fulfilling life, not a filled life.  If I am to follow Jesus and have a full life, a life that means something, and honors God, I need to take more time to seek Him.  I need to get better at saying no to people, not to be mean, but to be able to help better.  It’s kind of like the plane.  When the oxygen masks pop out, you put yours on before helping others.  I think there is something to that, since it seems pretty hard to help others if you can’t breathe.