Blessed to be Stressed

I’ve put off writing a new blog for a while, simply because so much is going on right now I didn’t know exactly what to write about. On one hand, life is exciting and new but on the other hand I’m stressed and worn out, hoping for the path I’m supposed to take to show itself soon.

I’m at the stage in life where change is inevitable and as much as I love new adventures, I’ve found I’m one who loves routine and familiarity. In the last couple weeks I’ve left my full-time job and moved 12 hours away into my parents house so I can start my Masters degree.

Being back with my family is amazing, I love being able to invest in my sister, hang out with my dad, and do life with my mom. Yet, starting over is never easy. My friends seem to be everywhere in the U.S. but here, my boyfriend and I are joining the multitude of long distance couples relying on FaceTime dates and nightly phone calls to make the distance seem smaller, and the job market seems to be as dry as the Sahara Desert.

And as the days drag on, my stress level increases.

Grad school, car payments, insurance, you name it, the bills are hitting hard and my income is non-existent.

And as much as I’d like to say I’m calm about it all, I’ve seemed to internalize the stress, resulting in an exhausted emotional tank.

You might be wondering why I’m telling you all this, but the truth is, we’ve all been here. We’ve all been to the point where we’ve exhausted our emotional tank. We think we’ve run out of options, we’ve hit that wall and we don’t know what to do. And if you haven’t, without sounding like a debbie downer, I’m sure at one point in your life you will.

The most encouraging thing I’ve found during this time though, is my authenticity with God and my reliance on Him has grown.

When you have no control over what happens in your life and you’ve hit your emotional end, who better to turn to than the one who created you and knows exactly how to fill the empty tank?

I can apply to jobs day in and day out, but I cannot control who calls me back and who leaves my application on read. I can bottle up all my feelings and worries and stresses inside, or I can express them to the one who can actually take care of them. For me, that seems like an easy choice.

By focusing on what I can control and leaving the rest up to God, I’ve found a sense of peace in the madness of uncertainty. If God opened the door to Michigan and being with my family, He will provide an income and the friends I need.

Matthew 6:25-32 states:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

God cares about us more than we can even imagine. He knows our needs. He isn’t surprised by my grad school bills or lack of a job, so why am I worrying that He will not provide. God is our provider (Phil. 4:19). It’s one of His names. It’s part of His nature. So why do I doubt? What is worrying going to solve? Absolutely nothing.

In times of uncertainty, hardship, insecurity, or wherever you’re at, we must learn to rely on God. Study His names. Know who He is. Memorize His promises. Because He will not fail us. He will not disappoint. And all we need to do is trust.

So as I go into this week, still staring bills and job uncertainties in the face, I will trust in the one who provides. I will know He has it under control and I will chose to rest in His peace and the truth of His word.

God will provide. It may not be in the way we imagined or in the way we hoped but He will provide. For He has promised to do so and God does not lie.

Take the weight off your shoulders, fill your emotional tank, and find your peace in the only one who can guarantee it will be given to you.

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Do you really deserve it?

Have you ever given a gift to someone and instead of them saying “thank you” or showing appreciation for the gift, they take it as if it was something they always deserved and you were just finally getting around to giving it to them? If you have, you understand how frustrating this is, if you haven’t, I assure you, live long enough and you will.

Blame participation trophies, government handouts, or whatever you wish, but our culture and generation has started to believe everything is entitled to them. They don’t need to work or earn anything. It’s the “I got a degree, so now I deserve a bosses paycheck” mentality and it’s ripping apart the work ethic and the gratitude of our society.

Unfortunately, the issue of entitlement and lack of gratitude isn’t a new issue. It may have been classified as something different back in Biblical times, but in Luke 17:11-19, Jesus faces the same issue:

11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy[a] met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” 14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. 15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

In this story, Jesus saw the men with leprosy and had pity on them — they weren’t entitled to healing, they didn’t work for healing, they simply were blessed with Jesus’ pity and love. Yet, only one of the ten returned to say thank you for the gift of healing he had been given. Jesus saved these ten men from being outcasts in their society, they were able to rejoin their families and friends. They could be a part of the working class again and no longer have to beg for a livelihood. Not only did Jesus give them healing, he restored their status and their families, yet they still did not say thank you.

What I find interesting is the one that did come back and say thank you was a foreigner. Back in the times of Jesus, the Samaritans were despised by the Jews, so as Jesus healed the men, I wonder how many were Jews and how many were Samaritans. Did this man come back and say thank you because he knew Jesus was a Jew and therefore it was even more of a statement and miracle that Jesus chose to have grace on him? No one would have questioned Jesus’ choice to heal the Jews, but a Samaritan was a whole other story. Maybe the others felt they were entitled to Jesus’ healing powers, after all, if they’re of same cultural backgrounds they were supposed to have an upper hand in society. But does that make it right to ignore the gift given and go on without gratitude?

Do we as American’s tend to feel entitled to all that is given to us? As Christians do we just figure since we prayed the prayer once we are entitled to the grace given and forget to say thank you to Christ for his sacrifice and his daily grace? Or do we truly appreciate every gift that is given to us? Do we have an attitude of gratitude, never letting an act of service or a gift be given without a thank you?

Honestly, it’s easy to get into a rhythm of entitlement. Our society surrounds us with images and messages that we deserve everything and it’s our right to have what we want. But God’s society teaches us to live life knowing we deserve nothing, yet are given everything because of God’s grace, mercy, and love for us.

Jonah 4 is another perfect example of our entitled mindset. In this chapter of the book, Jonah is sitting in the hot desert sun, God provides a source of shade for him to sit under, but then some bugs come along and eat the leaves causing the plant to no longer provide shade. Jonah becomes furious with God because he no longer has shade and once again is out in the blistering sun. Yet what did Jonah do to deserve the shade? Instead of seeing the shade as a gift from God that was graciously given and can be taken away at any time, Jonah felt he was entitled to the shade and it was God’s duty to provide it to him.

If you don’t believe you’re living an entitled life, think through these few examples:

Your janitor takes out your trash every day, they miss a day because they were busy doing something else…do you help them out and take out your own trash or do you get frustrated because they didn’t find the time to take it out? When was the last time you thanked the janitor for keeping the office clean?

You’re on a team and your team goes out for dinner or for an activity, do you gratefully appreciate wherever they chose to go, or do you complain because it’s not the exact place you wanted to go? Do you complain about the driving of the coaches or do you appreciate the money spent on getting a car so the team gets to go out on fun adventures and isn’t stuck in the hotel all weekend?

When you continue to pray a prayer, but God choses to respond in a different way than you asked, are you appreciative for the response and thankful for a God who cares enough to listen, or do you get upset and abandon your faith because you felt entitled to the result you didn’t get?

Whatever it is you feel you are entitled to, realize everything in this life is a gift. We aren’t entitled to God’s grace, His grace is a gift given to us. If He choses to extend judgement instead of grace, we shouldn’t be upset because we don’t deserve anything but judgement.

So please stop living an entitled life. Live a life full of gratitude. If someone does something for you, say thank you. Say thank you a hundred times a day, to the cashier, the waitress, the janitor, to whomever it is you tend to take for granted. Don’t be like Jonah or the nine ungrateful lepers. Be thankful for the shade and the healing God has given you, and if it’s taken away, say thank you for the time it was given. Be grateful and see everything as a gift. I promise you, your life will become a million times brighter when you do.