I love online studies since life is so busy and I can't seem to make it to one of the studies at our church. A friend suggested that I join the "Greater" study that happened back in January hosted over at Proverbs 31 ministries and I decided to give that one a try. I liked it and Stressed-Less Living is going to be my third in this series. It couldn't apply to me more.
I decided to jump ahead and read chapter one on Sunday night. What a great move. I read the chapter and really was hit with the message that I need to stop spending so much time worrying so much and being stressed by things that are beyond my control (a specialty of mine). I came to work Monday morning (for anyone who haven't been around here much, I'm an elementary teacher and the primary lead teacher, which means lots of meetings and since it's a large school, it's a bit like trying to herd cats. Given the current labour-situation in schools here in Ontario, you might be starting to understand why I am stressed). My intentions were so good and yet, by lunchtime, I felt sick to my stomach from all the tension and I could feel the muscles in my neck and shoulders tightening up from my clenching, trying to keep up with all that I felt that I had to do. Since then, I have worried about the freezing rain and driving, my son's not sleeping, our finances, a situation with a friend and at church, my dog... the list goes on and on. I know that I am taking years off my life with this worry and it makes me unhappy. I don't want to live like this and something needs to change.
It's funny, there are people who say that we should just "stop worrying." It will all be fine. If we have enough faith, life will get easier. Then, there are the people who imply that I am worrying about nothing. While I may worry too much, it is not nothing. I am not someone who blows things out of proportion (unless it's a health thing, and then I freely admit, I'm a nutcase). I have an insanely busy life - two young children, pets, an intense job, acting as children's worship coordinator at our church, trying to be a good wife and friend, commuting (although not as far as I did), trying to include acts of service in my life... it goes on and on. I wouldn't change it in terms of the fact that the things that I have the option to drop are often the things that give me the most pleasure and I don't want to sacrifice that. Reading this chapter really helped me to see that I need to 1. really focus on what I can control and 2. put faith in God that He is good and that He can handle the rest. It sounds so simple for the reality is so hard (at least for me). I want to ENJOY my life and not take years off myself with worry and the physical symptoms of a life of stress.
Luckily for me, I read Ann Voskamp's 1000 Gifts a couple of years ago and I have strongly embraced the "blessed" approach to life. I am trying to look for all of the little blessings that come my way every day and I do find that helps me A LOT. I'm looking forward to seeing how this book takes me that next step and helps me to manage my stress and to clearly see and be able to enjoy all of my daily blessings! I'm looking forward to reading the thoughts of everyone else!