This week started off pretty horrendously. I was managing a little stress after a disagreement with someone, the kind of stress which usually I can manage quite well, but, combined with what I believed to be a friend disrespecting me with careless words, throw in a couple of bickering kids, a house that is upside down, and a washing pile that looks like it belongs to old mother Hubbard, an unexpected bill and an overwhelming urge to run away from home at thirty-eight. And that’s only the first week of the summer. I was feeling completely overwhelmed by not really an awful lot. A flick through social media seemed enough to tip me over the edge. Seeing that perfect family holiday, another perfect relationship, a mum who has just crafted something beautiful with her well-behaved children while sitting peacefully around the table, a family much bigger than mine that has a super tidy house. Why, oh why is my life such a shambles? Why am I so crap at parenting? Why can’t I manage my home like that? The questions mount up.
So I have hurt, anger, comparison, inadequacy, stress all piling up in a big heap on my shoulders. And this presented itself as verbal diarrhoea when I took (yip that gross) swipe at a friend in the most ungodly fashion, practically biting their face off over a very unimportant matter (sorry DB & thank you for your grace), followed by a whole lot of tears, a stop at the garage for an extra large bar of chocolate and home to sulk in my room. Well because I’m six and that’s what you do when you’re six. Please, if nothing else, please let me know I’m not alone here! We all have these little mishaps, yeah???
I did the only thing that was left to do in my sorry state, which probably should have been my first move but a killer headache and sleep in had left me rushing out the door like a maniac. I came home, went to my room, grabbed my notebook and Bible and lay on my bed and spent some quiet time with God. I lay there and talked to God about all the trouble on my heart. Immediately, and with the added help of two paracetamol, my throbbing headache and aching heart started to ease.
In Philippines, it tells us, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6-7 NLT
My Bible’s footnotes say prayer and peace are closely connected. The one who entrusts cares to Christ instead of fretting over them will experience the peace of God to guard him from nagging anxiety.
So often we try to create our own peace with the quick fixes, the chocolate or the Netflix marathon, or the other activities that help us switch off from our stressful circumstances, when the Bible tells us that we can find peace through simply spending time in prayer. So when we feel the need to unplug from the world, that probably means what we really need is to disconnect with the world and connect with God. From there we will find our peace.
It’s not that my situation changed. I still had that unsettling disagreement to sort out. My kids were still squabbling, my house was still a bit of a mess. The magic fairy hadn’t turned up to pay the bills and do the laundry. All these things still felt bigger than me. But I know my God is bigger than even my biggest problem.
But rather than running away from my stress I need to chose to run to God with my stress.
“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.”
Psalms 46:1 NLT
I looked up the meaning of refuge and the definition says the state of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger or difficulty. That doesn’t mean I get to escape from everything, that just means I get to rest from it while strength to continue I get from the Lord. So often I try to depend on myself for that strength; I try to do it all on my own and leave God out, but this verse reminds me to go to God and he is my refuge and MY STRENGTH.
While I’m finding my rest and strength with God then I’m reminded that all these things that are causing my strife are all manageable. Because God has given me everything I need to deal with these situations and, from him, I can get wisdom guidance and help.
Spurgeon, the absolute legend, said this:
“If indeed the Lord is our refuge and strength, we are entitled to seek after a spirit that will bear us above the dreads of common men. Not everyone can sing the psalm of peace amid commotion and clarity. We must belong to the believing company, we must have the Lord as our God, and we must learn the art of prevailing in prayer.”
But I guess in these situations in life we can all be wise to reduce the build-up of these stressful situations. We have to be willing to help ourselves and, as appealing as it may be, I can’t just take to my bed with a giant whole nut bar and hope that everything is better by the time I get up again. I need to find time to spend with God, like proper intentional time carved out every day, and for me this needs to be a discipline that I will not waver on, even if it means saying no to other things or maybe it means going to bed an hour earlier and not sitting scrolling through social media. But actually setting my phone down and pulling out my Bible, like the real paper version, not the electronic version, reading scripture and talking to God.
I also need to wise up and be a better steward of my money. Get wise and budget for unexpected bills. Plan a holiday allowance, stop impulse buying, save for a rainy day and then I wouldn’t have the unexpected bill stress
Battles for me, I guess I need to chose when to fight battles and with whom. I realised a while ago that I actually have a choice to be offended or not. I will tell my boys when they so often come telling tales of what this one said or whatever and I will ask them if it’s true. Usually, they will answer no. So I will say, then it doesn’t matter (mama needs to practice what she preaches). Choosing not to allow other people’s poor choice of words or bad manners to offend you is a great decision and, in turn, that can cut down on any unpleasant, heated discussion because, well, it probably won’t even affect you what they say because you know the truth.
The biggest for me! Don’t fall into the comparison trap. I can just picture the devil, pitchfork in hand, giving even the most secure Christians the poke over the edge into the hellfire of comparison, and social media is his fuel to the fire. See all that stuff on social media, that’s the highlight. However, even knowing that doesn’t seem to stop us. And I do it too. I put the best version of me on display for all to see. It’s not that I pretend that my life is all peachy perfect but I’m not going to post a makeup free selfie of my freshly squeezed face sitting in amongst all the clutter of my home. Noooooo I’m not. But stupidly, I will look at others’ lives through their hi-light reel and feel so inadequate. So this is where I need to be careful about how much of what I see on social media I allow to influence my life. Sometimes that’s gonna look like a media fast or social media free days to guard against that.
So today I want to encourage you to ask yourself if my peace is lost. what do I need to give up?
is it that busy schedule that needs to change?
is it the novel needs set down and the Bible picked up?
does the FB/Insta app need deleting off your phone?
Do you need to put some boundaries in place with that friend overstepping the mark?
Do you need to let go of pride and ask for help?