Trading Distress for De-Stress
I am sitting in a car that is not my own. The vehicle is rocking back and forth like a carnival ride. Suddenly a familiar woman appears in the passenger seat and tells me to let go of the steering wheel, close my eyes, and breathe. The car doesn’t stop shaking at first but after I follow her advice, I find the car is still.
I walk into my childhood home where I’m greeted by two Christian women who have passed before me – my great-grandmother and my husband’s grandma. They are baking cookies in the kitchen. They are laughing and talking as good friends, even though they had never met. I keep asking questions in disbelief, trying to figure out what I’m doing here, who they really are, and where I am. The ladies just offer me cookies. I am told a friend who has also passed on is in the backyard. I ask if he is weeding, to which, my great-grandmother replies, “There are no weeds here.”
I know this dream was a vision from God. I awakened with an inexplicable peace that could’ve only come from the Almighty. The message was simple– don’t worry.
Isn’t that something all women need to be reminded of? You spend so much of your time stressing out, trying to control situations, trying to fix problems, and trying to find all the answers.
I’ve spent a good part of this year worrying. This cumbersome stress has affected my health, my relationships, my walk with God, and my marriage. Early in the year, I finally put a name to a medical condition that has plagued me for a long time. Now, I figured, I know what it is. I’ll be cured. But it’s rarely that simple. Some days, the road to recovery is incredibly discouraging and exhausting.
Psalm 68:19 says, “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.”
With a promise like that, it’s a wonder we don’t all lay down our burdens daily at the foot of the cross. I suspect you are like me, trying to carry your own burdens. It seems easier that way, right? If you’re carrying it, you’re in control. You’re the one who can fix your problems. This is not how God operates. God doesn’t stand idly by and hope we figure things out.
1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast your anxiety (your uneasy feelings of uncertainty, agitation, dread, fear, worries, and thoughts) on Him (God) because He cares for you.” Literally, the word ‘care’ here comes from the Greek ‘melo’ meaning ‘diligent, careful.’ God is filled with attentive, faithful care for us. He literally takes our worries on Himself and works on our behalf.
Read the verse in context: 1 Peter 5:6-8
“Humble yourselves (let go of self), therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time (be exalted, be blessed, materially and spiritually, be pulled up). Cast your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. Be alert (watchful, ready) and of sober mind (sound judgment). Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
The Devil relentlessly pursues you, trying to make you worry, seeking to convince you that you’re all alone. The battle is already won. Jesus defeated our Enemy through the cross, and He willingly takes our sinful worries upon Himself. All He asks for is humble recognition that you can’t do it on your own and that you let Him carry you.
“There are no weeds here,” she said.
This part of my dream was a blessed reminder of our hope of everlasting life. God’s mercies and promises do not end in this physical world, but extend forever. I have hope that whatever I’m struggling with today will not last, and that Jesus has already conquered it for me.
You are an eternal being, precious in God’s sight, and He wants to carry you through the concerns (good or bad) of today. Will you let Him, my sister?
Live and Grow
Let go of the things that distress you and de-stress in the arms of Christ.
A – Accept there are things you cannot control – the weather, traffic delays, sickness, other people, death.
E – Equip your mind for hard moments – memorize Bible verses like 1 Peter 5:6-8 or Psalm 68:19 to recall when you are stressed out.
I – Include Jesus in each moment- pray without ceasing. I take this to mean dialoging with God throughout the day. Acknowledge He’s walking there with you in the day-to-day.
O – Open your mind and heart to hearing from God – Last night, I was walking into the grocery store, lost in thought, and a woman called out to me and said, “Look.” At first I didn’t realize she was talking to me. I was tempted to ignore her since she was dressed poorly and I thought maybe she was going to ask me for money. But she just kept waving and saying something in a language I didn’t understand. The Spirit inside me whispered, “Look, Hannah, for you.” As I turned around, I witnessed the most beautiful double rainbow I’ve ever seen in my life. I could’ve missed the whole thing if I hadn’t been open to the Holy Spirit’s prompting.
U – Utilize thankfulness – Your mind, body, heart, and spirit can reap the benefits of gratitude. Recognize God’s provision in your life. For every negative thought, think two positive thoughts. One of my favorite songs recently is Blessings by Laura Story. Listen to it here. As I got in my car to drive away last night, Blessings was playing on the radio.
“What if Your blessings come through raindrops? What if Your healing comes through tears? What if a thousand sleepless nights is what it takes to know You’re near?”
God is deeply personal. He meets each of us individually in unique ways. I know He divinely orchestrated the dream, rainbow and song to reach me. He is near.
Share With Us – How is God reaching you right now? What are some things you need to let go of? What are you thankful for?