Monday, April 03, 2006

Stress and Destress

Got an email forwarded to me called "Destress the Christian Way." It's got 36 different suggestions, in small print. More stuff I gotta do, or do better, or do more deliberately. Keep extra keys handy. Go to bed on time. Eat right. (Yup, went to the kitchen for a stack of Oreos.) Allow extra time. Pace yourself.

I get stressed just thinking about all the ways I could organize my life better so that I will be less stressed.

But there were other ideas too. Ones that rely more on being quiet and less in control. Like "talk less, listen more." Laugh. Develop a forgiving attitude. Laugh some more.

And be grateful. The last item on the list says, "Every night before bed, think of one thing you're grateful for that you've never been grateful for before. GOD HAS A WAY OF TURNING THINGS AROUND FOR YOU. 'If God is for us, who can be against us?' (Romans 8:31)"

I wonder what the many different people who have received this email think of this divine promise at the end. What do they want turned around for them? A business? A relationship? A life? Or themselves?

I'm thinking that God doesn't turn "things" around for us nearly as often as God turns us around. God spins us in circles, like we're playing "Pin the Tail on the Donkey." Hands us things in life that confuse us, challenge us, surprise us. When we can again focus on the horizon, we see it differently.

Thinking of things you're grateful for that you've never been grateful for before is a way of saying, God, turn me around. Help me to see how you, God, are for me in all things. I am stressed as I struggle to get my life under control. Yet letting go and, as item 35 in the "Destress" list suggests, reminding myself that I am "not the general manager of the universe" frees me to see the grace of God at work.

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