Stretching ExercisesThursday, October 14, 2010
Last week stress had taken its toll on me and my frustration level was at a new all-time high. Because of the many changes that came so quickly for our family, the stability in my life had become way out of balance. In addition to learning to become comfortable in a new neighborhood, ensure that my parents were settling into their new home as they faced the unique adjustments concerning their own move, my manageable 30 minute commute to work has grown to an hour or more each way. And last week, as I tried to adapt to these changes, I succumbed to the stress. I discovered that there didn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to go to work, come home and unpack, be a wife, a supportive daughter to my parents, be a mother or a friend…or even have time alone with God. I also found it interesting that during this difficult time at home, it was also the busiest time in my office. I was tired and with my energy level spent, I had an emotional meltdown. I sat in my car during my lunch break at work and burst into tears. The ground beneath my feet seemed to crumble into a pile of sand as I felt myself sinking under the weight of a heavy load. I have to admit that I was so distraught that I couldn’t go to work the next day. My supervisor understood, but still, I felt that I was a failure at handling the changes in my life.
As I rested the next day, I remembered the message that God brought through His servant James: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4). It became obvious that I needed to reevaluate my circumstances. But how could I consider my current trials “joy”? As I pondered that question, I realized that God was at work in my situation. He was making changes in me. God is always at work stretching, growing, maturing and refining us. And just like with stretching exercises, the resulting growth can be painful. Though many things were happening in my life to upset my emotional status quo, I needed to remember what my first priority should be. I needed to keep God at the center of my life every day, especially when life turned upside down. I needed to always put God first, rather than only "try" to save room for Him.
So, with the gentle (or not so gentle) nudging of the Holy Spirit, I changed my point of view. Rather than dwelling in the place where my stress overcame me, I looked at the changes in my life with new eyes, remembering that when I put God first, everything else would fall into place.
When I got up the next morning, I left the house earlier than usual. During my drive to work, I actually turned off the radio and found myself talking and praying to God. My long drive to work became a peaceful journey with God by my side. I used that time to reconnect with the Lord rather than become frustrated with time lost. Then, when I arrived at work, I spent the next 30 minutes continuing my time with the Lord by reading the Bible in my car. The shift in my priorities made a huge difference in how I handled my day. Though the workload was still high, I felt mentally prepared. And then, when I returned home in the evening, though I was tired from a long day, my attitude was better.
In our lives we all face seasons of change. Sometimes that change is difficult and often painful. But through it all, God is faithful. He is busy refining us and purifying us as we mature. Each challenge that we face is truly an opportunity to learn and grow. For me in this season, God’s message has been to remember my priorities…to keep Him first. Then, even when the world is swirling all around me, my feet will be on solid ground.
“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world” (1 Peter 1:6-7).
Living for Him,
Spiritually Unequal Marriage for more Thankful Thursday posts. I know you’ll be blessed!