The Best Response to Stress
A few weeks ago, I decided to make a quick trip to the city to spend a 20% off discount voucher at my favourite bookstore. Living with fibromyalgia means I need to be extremely wise in how I spend my scant energy resources. I’d usually not even consider a trip to the city on my grocery shopping day. But being a little stronger since my B12 injections began last year, I thought I’d risk it.
I soon realised what would make it even more do-able. I could drive to the village, park there, take the O bahn to the city, return to the village and then do my shopping. There are more buses to the village than to my home, so it sounded a great idea to make it one long trip rather than two separate ones. On Monday morning, I woke up feeling rested. Not too much pain or fatigue. Thank you God. I took off two hours later than planned, at 10.30 a.m. Never mind. I would make it.
I parked in the village, picked up my handbag and got out of my car. Before leaving home, I’d removed my bus pass from my purse and had lodged it in an outer section of my bag, to make it easy for me to access it. But when I looked where it should have been, I couldn’t find it. Oh dear. I checked all the compartments of my capacious bag, muttering a few prayers under my breath—but it wasn’t there. I checked the car seats—not a sign of it. I opened the car boot and peered inside my collection of empty shopping bags. No, not there either. Sigh. I would have to buy a ticket after all. Very annoying!
I trundled off to the bus stand, hot and agitated, but was glad to see a bus was ready for take off. As I reached, waving my hands vigorously, willing the driver to wait for me, the bus took off. Not my lucky day apparently. I walked all the way back to my car and decided that I may as well go back home to hunt for my bus card. It had to be there. Once home, I checked every room methodically, even the bathroom! No bus pass anywhere. Grrr! I phoned my son—perhaps he’d taken mine accidentally. Nope.
I’d wasted one full hour in the pursuit of my prized metro card. My stress was fast rising, like a swelling river after torrential rains. What I’d imagined would be a blissful day; riding on the O bahn listening to praise music was turning instead into a very frustrating one. Sigh! But then, as I got into my car, I realised what I needed to do. To stop giving into my frustration. To flip my mind’s channel to a more peaceful one. So at once I made the choice to be happy. I told myself to be thankful that I hadn’t lost something more important, like a credit card or my house keys. It was just a bus pass after all, with only about 10 dollars credit on it. No problem. All the way to the village this time, I sang praise songs to Jesus.
I thanked Him for His goodness. I thanked Him that life was beautiful—that I had the energy to go to the shops and to even take a trip to the city. As I parked the car again, I asked God for His help. “Lord, it would be lovely to find that bus pass even now. Please help me. If I don’t find it, that’s OK too.” Immediately, I was led to the boot of my car. I opened it and I took out the shopping bags one by one. And yes, there was my bus pass nestling inside one of them. Hooray! I found it.
I was one happy girl as I boarded the bus to the city. I had missed yet another bus but it didn’t matter. A faster bus arrived soon after. I got to the city in record time, made my purchases and went back to the village for my shopping. I was exhausted by the end of it, but I’d achieved what I’d hoped for and was still alive to tell the tale. I sifted the events of the morning that night as I went to bed. I knew the exact moment when my pear shaped morning had been transformed into a cracker of a day.
Before I'd started praising God, I hadn’t been in the right frame of mind to listen to Him. Even if He did speak to me, my mind had been too filled with noise to hear Him. But once I’d quieted myself in praise and worship, a miracle took place inside of me. And then I heard His still small voice. Life can often be difficult. But you know what? My attitude to the problem is more important than the problem itself. What’s the best response to stress, I wonder? Ah! No need to wonder. I know. Praise, thanksgiving and resting in Him are the order of the day. Every day. Every. Single. Day.
Why don’t I do that more often?
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thess 5:16-18