I get it, you are freaking out, chugging coffee, and blaring music trying to stay awake studying for the impending 50 question mid-term exam on Tuesday. Maybe you are getting ready to get married and can’t figure out the finances (it is EXPENSIVE). Maybe you are working full time and can’t see the future clearly.
I know. I have been there…well I am there.
I go to school full time.
I work full time.
And I am newly engaged.
All at 21.
I feel your stress and anxiety on a very intimate level.
Except, I am actually thankful for it. I know that seems incredibly contradictory, but it is true. I would rather have the stress I have now, than not have it.
So many times we pray and ask the Lord to bless us and expand our worlds, but the moment He does…well, “God I can’t deal with the stress. How could you forsake me?”
You are stressed out about your impending exam because God gave you the opportunity to make a better future for yourself than working a manual labor job 50 hours a week. You are working full time because you asked God to provide you with financial blessing and wisdom. So He gave it to you. You prayed for years to finally meet “The One,” well you have. God answered the very desires of your heart.
It has taken me almost 3 years of college for God to get this concept through my thick skull:
Discomfort does not mean that God is absent, many times it means He is right there. He promises to stretch us, not give us comfort.
So, in my discomfort I learned a couple things. I call them The Three R’s. Here they are:
You have to recognize the stress and anxiety you feel for what it is. Understand the place you are at and why you feel it. Is it something you induced on yourself, or is it an answer to prayer? For example, if you waited until the night before the due date to film your senior project…ehh that’s on you. Having the opportunity to write, direct, and produce your first short film? That’s God. Sometimes it is hard to dig deep and be ok with the idea that God is calling you to be uncomfortable in a season.
Don’t believe me? Remember Joseph? He was thrown into a pit, sold as a slave, and then went to prison for something he did NOT do, but all the while, God was growing and stretching him. Joseph had a dream. God responded. It didn’t quite look like what Joseph had intended, but nonetheless, he trusted God. Oh yeah, and Joseph became the second command of Egypt…just food for thought.
After you have recognized the stress in your life and deciphered what is from the Lord and what is from yourself, you have to rename the feelings. It is a part of being emotionally and spiritually mature. Peter Scazzero says it beautifully in his book, The Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, “Emotional health and spiritual maturity cannot be separated. It is impossible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.” Being aware and accurately defining your feelings and emotions is a part of growing in maturity, both emotionally and spiritually.
It is important to note that God is not a God of anxiety, depression, or confusion, but instead Scripture says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phiippians 4:6-7). Instead of looking at your emotions and calling them anxiety, stress, or frustration, name them what God intends for them to be: growth, stretching, and pushing.
The moment we reframe the situation, according to God, our hearts and minds change and are reoriented to His heart and mind.
So we have recognized what is happening, renamed it to what God intends, and now we have to release it. God is crystal clear, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). He has given you the opportunity and the dreams, He WILL see it through. Release it to the God of the universe. He slung the planets into orbit, He can handle your midterm, financial worries, or work schedule!
Even if you have made a mistake and find yourself sitting in the consequences of your mis-judgement, He is still there.
His promise that He will strengthen you and uphold you is not contingent on your performance!
All God asks is for humility. Come before Him with a broken and contrite heart, and He will never fail you.