Well then. I’m already behind on my 30 Days of Grace series. I’m so sorry, friends. These aren’t easy to write, and my first post generated some questions that were tough to answer. The best place to start is usually at the beginning, so let’s start there. Let’s talk about stress.
It’s easy for me to disguise stress. I’m a naturally calm person, and I’ve been compared to “a slowly ebbing stream.” But my stress management really isn’t management at all. I compartmentalize and focus on the moment. I put stress in a box and let it hang out there. I try not to show face, even while I feel the the muscles between my shoulders growing tighter and tighter.
The sneaky thing about stress is that, even when you think you’ve got it managed, it can wreak havoc on your health and your relationships. It’s nothing to mess around with.
There are a million reasons to stress out every day. There are jobs to do and bills to pay and doctors to see. There are children to raise and worry about and fuss over, and to wonder, “Oh, my Lord, I hope I’m doing this right.”
When I’m stressed, it is nearly always because I am trying to achieve something, to do something on my own, in my own strength. It’s independence and self-reliance and bootstrapping and a world of good things, but it’s pride, too. It’s not trusting. It’s being afraid to fail. It’s being afraid to be let down.
Are those things you can relate to? That desire to build things, to do things, to achieve… in the midst of all the doing, it’s easy to shoulder a burden that was never ours to carry.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” – Matthew 11:28-30, The Message
When I’m worn out, it is not usually because someone else has given me a burden that’s too heavy. It’s because I have taken something on that I shouldn’t, or tried to do something on my own or in my own strength. Sometimes it’s simply that I am failing to trust. This is something I fall into time and time again.
So it’s time for the really tough questions. How’s my walk with Jesus? Am I still walking next to him, hand in hand? Am I close enough to hear the words he is speaking to my heart?
It’s so easy as working moms and wives to put off the things that are best for us, to fail to take care of ourselves in the most essential ways. I’m not talking about making sure we remember to schedule an appointment for a haircut, or to include ourselves on the fall clothes shopping list, or to plan a girl’s night out. It’s much more than that. We forget to care for our hearts.
If this is a struggle you share, too, take a minute and think back to before you had kids, before you got married, before life got complicated and it was just you and Jesus. Do you remember his whisper in your heart? Like treasure in your hands, the pearl of Great Price?
Jesus invites us to walk with him and work with him, to learn from him the unforced rhythms of grace. Doesn’t that sound lovely? And just the cure for your tired, worn out heart?
And you know what? There is a lovely side effect to living that gentle life of grace. It’s pure, indescribable, unadulterated joy.