“Call the Funny Farm!” Not if, but when is the last time you were in a position of confusion, exhaustion, discouragement and/or grief, and you felt someone must quickly provide emergency intervention? If you’re like me, it was as recent as yesterday or this morning. Stressful moments, from mildly irritating to incredibly difficult, come to all of us! They can sneak up as a complete surprise. They can also be predictable. Can you relate to some of these?
- Full schedule
- Homeschooling (especially on wet or cold days after we’ve been inside for too long!)
- Times of transition
- Illness or injury
- New member in the family
- A time of loss
- Financial strain
- Job tension
- When disappointed by people or circumstances
- When we sin against or disappoint people
- When we receive bad news
- Reorganization at work or church
- During a move/remodel
How do you deal with your craziness? It really is a good thing that our lives aren’t completely trouble free. If they were, where would our need be for God? You’ve probably heard these before, but I’m praying that God will use something here to encourage you, dear Sister! Here are a few of my favorite “Crazy” tips:
As soon as possible do whatever it takes to get much needed rest. My two boys, six and four, are pretty much beyond naps. Yet, we still have a 1 1/2 hour reading/quiet time in the middle of the day. It is helpful for everyone. My six-year-old actually looks forward to it! If you are anything like me, everything seems much worse when I am overly tired. And my exhaustion can be a sign that my priorities are out of kilter. My doing too much can be attibuted to my own pride.
Whenever necessary (not more than once per day :)), get your kids occupied with a good video and go to your room, close the door, put on your MP3 player or a good set of earplugs, lay flat on the floor and stretch your arms above your head while breathing in and out slowly. Here is one of my helpers:
“It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep.” Psalm 127:2
It really can be as simple as taking time to nourish ourselves. My tendency is to crave chocolate and potato chips, but these usually make me feel worse. At the risk of sounding like your mother, eat well and drink lots of water. Grill some chicken, make a salad, grab an apple. Go through a drive-thru and buy a salad if you can afford it. Indulge in the food you are craving, if you must. But, don’t go overboard, and don’t resort to splurging as a daily escape from reality. Popcorn is a calming snack, as is a banana. I love it that when Elijah was tired, afraid, and discouraged God did not berate him and condemn him. God isn’t condemning us: let us not condemn ourselves. Enjoy some of God’s good gifts – eat!
“Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, ‘Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.’” I Kings 17:2-4
3. Remember you are in a spiritual battle.
Too easily I forget that I am a soldier in a spiritual war. I’m sure that my forgetfulness, and the ensuing consequences, makes Satan very happy. We should expect daily battles! You think your temptations regarding food isn’t part of your spiritual battle? What was Eve’s first spiritual battle about? Yet, what we are really fighting against is far more gigantic than people, circumstances or food:
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age” Ephesians 6:12
Would we go to the hottest site in Afghanistan unarmed? No way. Give me the largest tank and a wide selection of the most accute bombs available. So then, how can we expect to face spiritual battles unarmed? There is no option here. We must eat, we must breath, we must be in God’s Word! Especially during days of pressure, weakness, doubt, and possible depression, begin the day by putting on the armor of God, by reading and praying through Ephesians 6:10-20 (you can read it by clicking on the link below):
And, remember, we are on the winning side.
“You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” I John 4:4
We must take time to read God’s love letter to us and . . .
We cannot begin to estimate the power of talking to God. Pour out your heart to Him! If writing is your thing, grab a pen and paper or a computer and write your prayers to God. It will help you to get it out of your system and leave it with the One Who has the power to work 24/7 for your good and His glory. If you write it down it will also help you gain perspective on your problems. How precious that our almighty God took on flesh and came to this wicked world. He cried our tears, sharing our sorrows:
“We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15,16
5. Talk to a godly friend. Ask for help!
One of the highlights of Sunday is talking briefly with a friend at church about how we can pray for one another throughout the coming week. And I can’t remember the number of times I have sent emergency emails or Facebook messages to ask sisters to pray for me. It is an immediate relief to be reminded that we are not alone. Don’t worry that you will be bothering someone (unless this is the 5th time you’ve called them today!).
I do want to stress GODLY friend. Not perfect (there aint any!), but growing. Who is a godly friend? One who is going to love you, show you grace, not judge you . . . but, also someone who is going to tell you the truth and not just what you want to hear. Call the friend who listens, cares, and points you to Jesus.
We recently heard Todd Wilson, of FamilyMan Ministries, speak to our local homeschool parents group. He spoke of a woman who called his wife and asked if she could come over to talk to her. They started with small talk, but soon the conversation got deeper. The visiting woman, one of whom Todd said we would all look at as the ultimate godly woman, quoting Scripture and giving glory to God, shared a personal hurt with Todd’s wife. She told of a time two years before when she had been studying her Bible and her little girl kept interrupting and trying to get Mama’s attention. The woman grabbed her little girls wrist too hard and broke it. Since then the mother had been in agony. As she shared her burden with this godly friend, she was able to breath and move on. Todd’s wife didn’t condemn her, but instead told her things like, “Oh, I am so sorry! Any one of us could’ve done the same thing! I know you didn’t mean to do it.” (Todd even humorously admitted wanting to share some personal experience/not-so-good advice, “I understand . . . I’ve often felt like I wanted to break every bone in my child’s body!”) Finally, this Christian sister was able to move on with her life. Sometimes we just need to confess our mistakes or sins to a godly friend.
“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16
6. Forget the past and move on.
If your stress has to do with your past (twenty years ago or yesterday), God wants you to forget it and move one. If you need to apologize, write the letter, make the visit, or pick up the phone. Even if people are hesitant to forgive. God is always ready to forgive us!
If you have been sinned against and are constantly plagued by bad memories, practice giving these burdens to God – the more you do it the easier it will get to give them over to Him and not grab them back. If you are obsessing, ask God to change your mind and literally get up and move into a different room and do a different activity. A Christian counselor recommended this when I was obsessing about death after a close call, and it really helped me. It is so refreshing when we can look forward to the future, entrusting our past and our future to God’s excellent care!
“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14
7. Plan something to look forward to.
We women have the privilege of serving the people in our lives: cooking, cleaning, driving people to appointments, cards, listening, etc. But we get worn out and need to be recharged. Get out your calendar and look for the first free space – plan a date with your husband or a friend. If other people are too busy, plan a date for yourself – go out and get a coffee or ice cream, read a favorite book, sit by a beautiful lake and soak in God’s beauty. And do it without feeling guilty! God gives good gifts to His children! He gave Jesus so that we can live more abundantly.
“And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.” Mark 6:31-32
8. Claim your blessings.
Reminiscent of Ann Voskamp’s wonderful book One Thousand Gifts, simply sit down and start writing down all the things you have to be thankful for. Your list of “bad things” is much smaller than the “good things” . . . and you’ve probably realized why I set apart “good” and “bad” to remind us that our point of view is terribly limited. What may seem bad to us may be what God is going to use to do amazingly good things in our lives.
Ask God to help you be thankful for where you are right now, including all the yucky stuff. He can and will give strength to help us be genuinely thankful for trials. All we need to do is ask and wait on Him. God highly treasures our sacrifice of praise.
“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” Hebrews 13:15
9. Cry and Breathe
Just a couple days ago I let it all out in my room, boo-hooing and doing some much needed grieving. I felt so much better afterward. Crying purges! It rids our bodies of toxins. Crying is part of what God has given to help us release some of the pent-up emotional pressure. These verses are probably familiar to you, so I want to share them in a translation other than the NKJV to give another perspective.
“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Psalm 56:8 (NLT)
If you are not a cryer, take a brisk walk, work out, release that stress somehow (and I don’t mean hurling a pan over your husband’s head!). And as our sweet more mature friends gently remind us, “This too shall pass.”
“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5
10. Pick One
Think of five people you know who are going through a trial right now (not including yourself). Plan how you, or you along with your family, can do something simple and special for him or her.
If you have a neighbor who just broke her arm, offer to rake her leaves. If you have a friend who just went through surgery, take a meal or a happy balloon over with a favorite coffee. Fresh flowers can be an extravagant gift making people feel loved, but most women I know prefer plants that aren’t going to die (unless they have thumbs not even close to the color of green and are thankful that after a short while their flowers die naturally 🙂 ).
I have a friend who has been suffering with depression. Just a phone call meant the world to him and helped him to be brave enough to seek the help he needed. I praise God that He used little ol’ me to help a brother in need, and at the same time get my mind off my own troubles.
“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10
I hope something in this list will help you during this crazy time of life! The best thing to remember as women on God’s mission, we are not alone, and God is lovingly continuing the good work He started in us.
“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.'” Isaiah 41:10
“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;” Philippians 1:6