With everything that is going on in today's society; competitive job markets, political unrests, health scares, economic statuses ... it is no wonder that the average person is left to deal with worry and anxiety. Stress isn't a new word, by any means. People, young and old, have been dealing with it for generations. People worry about their their incomes, they worry about the rising costs of a college education for their children, they worry about the price of health insurance, utilities, about the strength of relationships, and about practically everything else.
It was only a week ago that my pastor targeted his sermon about worries. How by worrying about tomorrow today, we were basically wasting our time because God had a plan and there was enough worry for today without worrying about the future too (I'm paraphrasing, of course). I find comfort in knowing that God has a plan for my life and those I care about, but He also made me the way that I am. He gave me a set of gifts and talents, which I attempt to use as wisely as I can. But I am also a natural born worrier, a mediator, a wanna-be Wonder Woman who seems to think it is expected for me to have answers and solutions to everyone's questions and problems at any given time. With that self-imposed responsibility, though, comes tension headaches, stiff shoulders, countless sleepless nights, worry lines around my eyes, and bouts of unexplained tears. I want to convince myself that I am strong and can deal with anything (and most times I can), but sometimes I am humbled and reminded of my humanness. No one else expects me to have it ALL together ALL of the time, well some may, but I am only one person.
I have a tattered small piece of paper taped to the rim of my computer screen at work that says '...God will never give me more to handle than he knows my shoulders can bear.' I read it several times a day to try and help me keep an even perspective.
Most days I am a 'glass is half full' kind of gal, but we all have our moments of doubt when the WHAT IFS start creeping their gloomy heads in to our days and dreams at night. What if our friend loses their job? What if the college students we know don't get jobs after graduation? What if we don't meet our deadlines and quotas at work? What if the price of health insurance continues to rise more than it already has, HOW will be be able to pay for it? Worse, what if someone gets sick and we actually need to USE the insurance, how will be afford to pay the deductibles?
Trying to keep the glass half full is a lot of work; it is no wonder we have sleepless nights, nauseous stomachs, and headaches. Study after study has shown that anxiety can give us physical symptoms; being 'sick' of the stress and the worry is more real than you know.
So, what's the perfect answer? I wish I knew. Continue to take life one day at a time, I suppose. Continue to do the best that we can using the tools we presently have. We'll never be able to get 30 hours in a day or 8 days in a week. We need to be able to slow down long enough to hear ourselves think; to temporarily block out all the things that may be overwhelming us. We need to set boundaries for ourselves and pray that people will respect them for what they are. We need to find an inner peace that allows us to take the 'being perfect' pressure off of ourselves. We need to trust God more that He really won't give us more to handle than He knows we can deal with.
What if we could say NO once in a while when we were asked to add something to our already overflowing plate? What if we forced ourselves to take 20 minutes out of our already busy day to focus on us? What if we learned, a little at a time, to trust that everything could turn out okay? What if we packed the Wonder Woman lasso and golden cuffs back into the Halloween dress up box and stopped thinking that we needed to wear them every day?
Personally, I'd love to try focusing on these WHAT IFS instead.
*Disclaimer ... this blog post is my twenty minutes of ME time for today. Trying to use my own advice. 😉