09 May Breathe
“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:7 NIV
I have this really nifty watch. It’s made by Apple. It is creatively named the Apple Watch. Cheekiness aside, I love this watch. It can be a useful tool in communication, fitness and even relaxation. That’s right! Even relaxation. I don’t use this tool very often, but it reminds me daily to breathe. I cannot confirm this, but it tends to remind me to breathe at times where I am stressed the most.
As many of you might relate, I am a very busy man. I deal with people on a daily basis. I work on a project-to-project work flow so it tends to be non-stop for me. Between leading my family, working for my church and managing my businesses, life can become quite stressful.
While God created stress as a temporary response from our bodies, we’ve managed to make this the norm. As a result, there is an unhealthy side of stress that can be seen easily-stress that becomes toxic and changes one’s demeanor. There were times in my life when people would request tasks from me and I would respond from a stressful stance. I might’ve blamed my attitude on lack of coffee, or the melancholic phases I would experience as a “creative”. Stress began to control my life. Stress became the norm. Stress started to produce depression and I would build a wall; “a really thick wall” as someone recently shared with me.
I remember my pastor meeting with me and noticing the change in my walk. I apologized and he simply told me, “You’re gonna be stressed out in life. It happens… Just breathe.” This remedy sounds too simple… It really IS that simple.
In Genesis 2:7, we see God breathing life into man. We read in Psalm 150:6 that everything having breath praises the Lord. These verses rock my world because it reminds us that if there is breath in us, then, we are ALIVE! Therefore, we must recognize that it is His life that is in us. The second verse reminds us that in everything we do, we should bring glory to Him. This includes how we respond to people, how we talk and how we walk. It takes so much more energy to think negatively than to live a life that reflects Christ.
As I’ve continued to manage my stress, I’ve had to change the way I pray. I realize that I am like a cup. You can only pour out what is poured in. So, I’ve recently begun to pray for more of His grace. If God pours in grace, then I can also pour out grace. Listen, everybody has quirks. I’ll be the first to admit that I have quirks. Some are more tolerant than others; but in the end, people are people. God calls us to not only love Him, but to love people. If stress gets me to a point where people are perceived to be the issue, then I need to step back and breathe. I need to find the pressure point in my life and lift it up to God.
There is a Bible verse that has become twisted and translated to “GOD WON’T GIVE YOU ANY MORE THAN YOU CAN HANDLE.” I don’t believe in this quote. There are times when God will allow people and challenges in your path; not to see you fail or struggle, but for you to meet with Him. He tells us in Matthew 11:29, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (NIV) I know this because I have lived it. There were times where I would try and do a million things on my own and fail. I would stress out and hate life. I became frustrated and nasty. This was not because God overburdened me with these things, but as a result of relying on my own strength and understanding. That was all on me. Now that I am a little older and a little wiser, I have learned to step back and breathe, both physically and spiritually. It is putting life on pause and allowing myself to breathe in the Holy Spirit, making sure my entire life is in order.
I mildly struggled with writing this blog because stress is something I struggle with daily. Just like my struggle with faith, this is something I have to constantly keep in check because God is always working even when it seems like He isn’t. I realize, though, this site is not about presenting ourselves as perfect. This site is meant to share challenges, triumphs and sometimes even failures in life that will help serve as a tool for you.
Are you working on your stress levels? Has stress created an atmosphere in your life that produces a toxic character? Please share with us in the comments below and we will pray with you. Do not allow stress to be lord over your life. Breathe.