Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Stress-free living

Ten minute massage? Good cup of coffee? Absolute quiet and stillness? There are many quick ways of relieving stress if you only have a few minutes, but in actuality, stress, anxiety and pressure are man-made, completely avoidable phenomenons. Now of course among many of Jesus' promises of love, security and joy, there was also the promise that we will have hardship in this world. Illness, yes. Sadness, of course. Anger and frustration, without a doubt. These are all products of a broken world. But anxiety or stress- no, I don't believe He ever meant for us to feel such things. If you are feeling those emotions, something has gone wrong. Either you are unable to hear God's voice, you are  taking on God's job for yourself, or you are ignoring personal conviction.
Do I ever feel stressed or anxious? Absolutely! My world may be full of coffee, an occasional ten-minute massage and forced stillness, but that doesn't mean I remember to abide (or remain) in God's perfect arms all the time, especially when my three boys all seem to need my arms at the same time.  As we approached the sacred and special Easter holiday, I began to notice Jesus' own frustration with the sin of those He loved. Just after the last supper, Jesus began to prepare his heart for the hardest calling of all time:
(Matthew 26: 36-44)

 36Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.


Talk about a potentially anxiety-driven, stressful time. Knowing he was about to suffer and die, Jesus is a bit perturbed that his closest "brothers" are fast asleep. Whenever I feel stressed or anxious, it seems to be moments when I am most vulnerable. I am tired, sick, or feel that I am alone in my circumstances. This is the perfect recipe for stress to emerge. Jesus was up all night praying, he was physically alone as his pals slept with heavy eyes, and he was overwhelmed to the point he was sweating drops of blood. Even with all of these elements, Jesus was not anxious. Frustrated at sin, yes. But not stressed as we understand and feel it today. He never sinned; he merely stayed as close as possible to His father, thus, trusting His will above all else. "Be anxious for NOTHING" (Phil. 4:6). "He will remain in perfect peace, He who remains steadfast because he trusts the Lord" (Isa. 26:3). 

This may be a bit too much scripture for those who don't pick up a Bible unless moving it from a local hotel nightstand, but it's how I have learned to deal with the falsehoods creeping into my simple life. As Levi has been doing amazing with his eating the past couple of weeks, one would assume I'd be doing cartwheels, or at least some java dance moves. Instead, Satan has tried to steal my joy with the anxiety and exhaustion of normal parenting. A strong-willed and drama-filled four-year old, and a very very hungry (he weighs about as much as Levi) baby, has lengthened my work hours without paying me overtime. We have been through much worse the past few years, so normalcy causing stress somehow makes me feel alone in the trenches. Once again I get back to why Jesus had to die in the first place. Without his death, there would be no hope, and without his resurrection, there would be no healing. Without my Bible, I would probably be on anxiety-meds or non-stop coffee-drink. Either way, we must remember that we are never alone. Even when it appeared that all his friends and family had abandoned Him, Jesus never felt alone. I believe that is why He never felt stressed. When we stay close to our maker, we stay far from falsehood.  Thank you Jesus for giving your life so that I may always feel peace regardless of my circumstances.

Do eggs have anything to do with Easter? Not really, but primary color-mixing is always fun!

Who knew a medical syringe could have so many uses. 



Levi look under there!

It's like hide and seek with eggs!

Oh that's how you do it!

Oh yeah, just wait till you open them!

Roman, this is how you do it!

Silas taught me how to drink my cereal milk too!

Way easier then hunting for eggs!


Happy Easter from the Smith crew!

~Stress Buster

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