Distress or De-Stress?
“ ‘Declare today that you won’t stress over things that are out of your control. People will be people, jobs will be jobs, but one thing is for sure: God will be God. Let Him handle it!’ Psalm 46:10, ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ “
This post on my book’s FB page received 138 likes, 423 shares, and had a reach of 32,575 people—more than any other is six years! (I wish I could say I authored it, but actually it was just an image I found and shared.) Why did this resonate so deeply with single moms? I suspect it is because they single-handedly carry the weight of so much responsibility—constantly juggling priorities, budget concerns, job pressures, and their greatest concern of all, their children.
But pay attention to this: What outcome have you ever changed by “stressing over” something? Jesus said, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matt. 6:27) Yet consider all the negative outcomes of stress: sleep deprivation, anger, anxiety, health issues, brain fog, relational tension, spiritual dissonance. A constant state of stress and distress undermines our well-being in body, soul, and spirit! It impacts our children as well—in the present, and in the long-term failure to equip them to face life’s difficulties a better way.
The reality is, we “stress” over the things that seem “out of control”, as if by ruminating on them more we can somehow change the outcome. But what do we actually control in life? Very little, apart from ourselves, and even ourselves we do not control well on our own—self-control is a gift of the Holy Spirit!
Every obstacle in life is also an opportunity. We can use our energy to worry and manage outcomes, or we can use our energy to let go of our desire to be in control, and surrender situations AND outcomes to the God who IS in control! He is the Almighty God who is still on the Throne, managing the entire universe and giving us breath day by day. (Psalm 46.) He is the Faithful God whose mercies are new every morning (Lam. 3:22-23.) He is the Compassionate God who knows every concern of our hearts, and carries them in His heart as He invites us to find our rest in Him (Matt 11:28.)
It is nothing less than miraculous when we can de-stress through the discipline of daily surrender. In the recovery field, we often remember the mantra, “I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it, I can’t cure it.” This is the gate of surrender to the One who IS in control. Practicing surrender to Him produces the outcomes of rest, peace, contentment, acceptance, faith, hope, and serenity. The practice of surrender enables us to enjoy these gifts, and share them with our children, equipping them to lean into God’s goodness and grace for whatever life may bring day by day.