Updated: Aug 19, 2021
Did you make a New Year’s resolution? Was it to exercise, eat less, rest more, pray more? I wonder if it lasted. Often, they don’t seem to. For me 2020 helped me recognise the importance of time with people I care for and the need to put in quality time with them. But I wonder, will you and I slip back into our busy and fast paced life, pre-Covid pandemic? Oh, to somehow find peace in the busyness of life!
Jesus said He wants to give us His peace as we hand over our worries for Him deal with (See John 14:27 & 1 Peter 5:7). Sounds so good doesn’t it? Mostly, we know it, but it seems difficult to do practically. Instead, we try to be everything to everyone. This is impossible and only causes us internal stress. Whilst we are running around chasing our tails, busy, tired and ineffective the devil laughs, and God waits for us to wake up and work on our internal growth.
Busyness is just one stressor or a cause of stress—others such as finances, health, or relationships can all impact our peace. And then there are different ways our stress reactions occur or become evident to ourselves and others. Some people when stressed go into control mode or get angry or become driven. Others might avoid or retreat or ignore the stressful situations or people. And then others may become passive and withdraw to the point of depression. These may work in a way, but they are not effective strategies in the long-term to deal with stress, as they end up being destructive relationally, health-wise and to our psychological well-being.
How do you react when stressed? It’s good to be think about this in order to become self-aware. It’s even better but quite hard to work out the roots of your stress reactions. God allows these triggers to send you to Him in order to dig up the root of the problem and finally deal with it.
I call these ‘valley experiences’ – visiting the pain via our feelings to find out why we are reacting in certain ways. There’s no better place to visit with God to get to the source of problems or stress with the help of the Holy Spirit. In Psalm 23 we learn that the Counsellor, our Shepherd walks with us in the valley as we go through it. Not over or past or circumnavigating it, but through.
As a result of time in the ‘valley’ in this way, the Lord reveals issues that need correction. Knowing the cause of your stress, to make changes in your life and to be free of any root problems perhaps it’s time to repent for any sinful behaviours and resist the enemy’s plans.
After that it’s a case of changing your habits or behaviours from the old to new when faced with those triggers that formally caused stress reactions. After this spiritual work it’s time to attend to the psychological and biological brain structures to change the old habits. This means behaviourally being at peace when triggers seek to make you lose your peace.
What I do and teach is three steps using an acronym BSB (not your banking BSB but this is the peace account), to find peace in stressful times.
B is for belly or diaphragmatic breathing effective in reducing stress almost immediately by activating the parasympathetic nervous system and the vagus nerve to calm down adrenaline production and associated stress responses.
S is for surrender to God’s will, a challenge for most of us although always in the end the only way through any valley or stress journey.
Finally, the next B is to just be still in God’s presence and rest there. There’s nothing like it—no comparison.
So, for 2021 will you amend your New Year’s resolution? Perhaps think about what stresses you, what you will do about it this year and if you need it, then do get some godly support.
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