Sunday, January 6, 2013

Is Stress Stressing Your Relationship? - Rayni Peavy

I am a mild germaphobe. This is mostly because I tend to get sick easily and I want to avoid it. However, if I’m not careful sometimes my “germ awareness” can get into the moderate level and occasionally it radically shoots off the charts into “If I touch that I think I might die.” Does that last statement sound a little out of hand? That’s because it is! We all have our idiosyncrasies, worries, fears, even OCDs. Maybe they don’t seem to be that big of a deal but if they begin to dominate our thinking and our actions this not only stresses us out, it can cause major stress in our relationship.

When fear takes over
Last month my husband and I went on a trip that required us to stay in a couple of hotels. My germ hating tendencies seem to ratchet up about 15 notches when I have to stay in a hotel. Usually I don’t get too weird about it, after all I bring my sanitizing wipes with me and clean everything! But this time I let fear majorly take hold and there were a few times when I came near emotional meltdown. And I’m not kidding, either. The fear of catching some virus from left over germs just kept escalating until I was acting kind of ridiculous. My husband finally told me he couldn’t handle my stress level. I knew I needed to do something about it because my stress was not only beginning to cripple me, it was totally stressing out my husband.

Do you see yourself in my description of myself? Maybe you aren’t worried about germs at all but do you intensely worry about something else? Are you continually anxious or afraid? Are you obsessing over any area of your life or your relationship? Are you stressed to the max at work, at home or in ministry? Is your stress level bringing stress to your relationships?

Choosing peace
While it’s natural at times to feel all of the emotions I just described, it’s not healthy to continually live in those emotions. The truth is God wants to be our Peace in every situation. He doesn’t want us to walk around filled with anxiety or doubt or fear or whatever it is that continually nags at us. That isn’t a word of condemnation for those who are experiencing those emotions, it’s an offer of freedom in Christ!

Jesus says:

"Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled]” (John 14:27, AMP).

Choosing abundant life
A friend once told me that she lives in a constant state of anxiety and that feeling is so normal to her that she is actually afraid to learn to walk in peace because it is completely foreign to her usual experience. And she is a follower of Jesus! Based on scripture I can tell you that the last thing God wants for us is to live in a continual state of anxiety, fear, panic, worry or any other negative emotion. Jesus came to set us free and bring us into abundant life! (John 10:10) All of those negative emotions I described don’t help us walk in the fullness of life; rather they keep us from it.

So, how did I stop freaking out when I was in the hotel? I knew it came down to a decision. I could either keep living in the height of anxiety, fear and stress or I could decide to release my fears to God and trust Him to take care of me. I could choose to grab hold of freedom and peace! Because of the confidence that I have in God’s sovereignty I made a decision to stop being afraid of all of the fears and “what-ifs” that were holding me captive and spilling over into my interactions with my husband. Sometimes it’s a step of faith to trust God and choose peace and abundant life; but it is there for the taking if we want it.

This week remember this promise from God’s word as you seek to release your stress to Him and receive His peace:

"You (God) will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal” (Isaiah 26:3, NIV).

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