I'm reading Pitchin' A Fit! by Israel and Brook Wayne with my friends in the Family Discipleship Facebook Group. We'd love for you to join us! We're discussing a chapter a week for the next 12 weeks. Read the details of how to jump in here.
The first chapter really made an impact on me, so this reflection might be a little longer than future posts in this discussion series.
What is stress?
What is stress? I'd define stress as being overwhelmed. In chapter 1 of Pitchin' a Fit!, Israel and Book point us to the Webster 1828 definition of being overwhelmed as being crushed. But, stress is just a feeling. We don't have to let it stick around. We don't have to be stressed out and overwhelmed. Stress is a feeling of being crushed. We're not actively, physically being crushed, although there's plenty of medical research out there pointing to the damage that stress can put on our bodies over time.
Stress can make you feel like you're losing your mind. Fear comes alongside and makes us question everything. Stress comes with a feeling of entitlement: I've done this or that so I deserve this or that. Somewhere along the line, panic sets in. And then we act without self-control. Barking. Hollering. Snapping.
Continuum of Anger
Stress doesn't always lead to anger, but stress is often the trigger for anger. Israel and Brook describe a continuum that starts with impatience and ends in rage, but there are many steps in between including edginess, agitation, and wrath. When we allow the feeling of stress to steal our self-control, we easily find ourselves flying through the stages on the road to anger and rage.
How much stress do I put on myself? How much stress are you putting on yourself? There's pressure to perform at every turn – from others and from within. There's pressure to be perfect. I'm a recovering perfectionist, so I know this feeling all too well. Whose standard are we trying to live up to? Do I let those standards overwhelm and crush me? Or do I choose God's power, love, and self-control in the middle of the chaos? And oddly, living with self-control is not the same as being “in control.”
Say No to Feeling Overwhelmed
I'm learning that a lot of managing stress is learning to say no. We say no to a lot of things around here. We don't do a bunch of extracurricular activities and evening events. We do this in order to say yes to the things that really matter to us. We do this to keep margin in our lives. Are their things in your life that need to be cut in order to reduce stress and make room for more of God's best?
Our kids will be grown and out of the house before we know it. I don't want to lose time chasing after temporary things. That's what stress really is. It's focusing on the temporary instead of on Jesus and eternal matters.
What was your biggest take away from this chapter? Share with me in the comments!