Stress-free is Normal
Do you live stress-free? If I asked you what the biggest stresses in your life are, I’m sure you would be able to tell me without a second thought.
These are the places where most people experience anxiety, worry or fear, which are just synonyms for stress. We’ve come to believe that worry is a “normal” part of every day life and we just have to deal with it by either ignoring it or somehow managing it.
But it’s NOT normal, at least not in God’s economy.
God tells us 365 times in the Bible to “fear not”. That’s one “fear not” for every day of the year, so I think God knew this would be a big deal for us and was trying to get our attention. And these “fear nots” are not suggestions, they are for the most part commandments written in the imperative. They are given with the expectation of obedience and certitude that we could obey. That seems like a tall order: how can we live in this world and not be worried, anxious or stressed?
For one reason: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7
This incredible verse is telling us the truth that in Christ we can live in this world stress-free and that’s normal. And we can do that because of the spirit that is in us, the Spirit of Christ.
Let me say that again: It is possible to live your every day life without being afraid, stressed, anxious or worried.
But how do we tap into that possibility and make it a reality? So glad you asked…
8 Ways to Live Stress-Free (not just stress-managed)
- Realize that stress, anxiety and worry are really fear. It’s the result of the question of what’s to become of me/them/us. Our minds are asking “What if” and jumping to conclusions. Don’t do that. Remind yourself of the truth (assuming you know the truth, see #4) that you are safe and sound in God’s love. It’s where you live and move and have your being. You couldn’t get away from it if your tried.
- Trust people instead of judging them. When there’s a huge gap between our expectation and the actual outcome in a situation it’s the easiest thing in the world to think we know everything that’s going on even when we don’t. From there it’s just a little jump to making judgments about this person or that thing, proclaiming them unfit to meet the expectation and seizing anxious control. Trust, however, is a powerful choice that builds bridges. It says: “I don’t understand this gap but I trust there’s a good reason for it and I’m just lacking information.” It gives the other person or parties the benefit of the doubt and takes the pressure off us to compensate for or fill in the gap. There are exceptions to this of course, such as when physical or emotional abuse are at play. There are some people who are truly untrustworthy and shouldn’t be trusted. Nevertheless, judgement need not rule the day in those cases. Leave the judging to God and trust HIM to work it all together for your good. Which leads me to #3….
- Trust God with everything. Your past, your present, your future. Your spouse, your kids, your elderly Great Aunt Mary, your cantankerous, unlovable devil of a boss, your abusive ex. Your house, car, possessions and money. Your body, your weight, your health. Your dreams and desires. Your life and your death. If you don’t trust God, it’s not that you can’t. It’s that you won’t. And you won’t because you don’t really know him. He’s utterly trustworthy and loving and for you (see the Cross) but you might be basing your concept of him on your experiences with your earthly father. Stop doing that. They are not the same. Your earthly dad, even if he was a great dad, was not perfect. God, however, is a perfect Father who will never fail you and can be trusted with absolutely everything in your life. Get to know him…really.
- Put on your armor and renew your mind. Read and memorize those “fear not” verses in the bible and get your thoughts saturated with that truth so when the Liar comes around and wants to provoke you into worry by placing worrisome thoughts in your head, you can tell him to get lost because you do not have a spirit of fear. I created a tool for you to do that. Click here to Download
- Pray, pray, pray. When fear and worry do come to taunt or oppress you, run to Papa – immediately! – and tell Him all about it. It’s not a sin to feel emotions of fear but it is disobedient to chronically entertain the thoughts of a spirit of fear when you have a spirit of love, power and sanity. Stop it and pray or call on others to pray for you.
- Forgive others and forgive yourself. People are not perfect and neither are you. You and they are going to screw up and hurt someone and if you choose to hold onto bitterness you won’t possibly be able to trust or pray or renew your mind. Bitterness is a poisonous root of fear so yank that sucker out and don’t let it grow in your garden.
- Pay attention to your thoughts. When is the last time you paid attention to what you were thinking? When did you last purposely tune into that unconscious, but constant stream of thought flying through your mind? That’s the battlefield right there and if you’re not paying attention the enemy is going to sneak a bunch of thoughts in on you and take you down in broad daylight and you won’t even know what hit you. Trust me on this one. One way to tune in is to pay attention to your emotions because those always follow the train of your thoughts. Happy thoughts equals happy emotions. Stressed thoughts equals stressed emotions. Every. Single. Time. No exceptions. When you find stressed emotions trace back to your stressful thoughts and capture those nasty buggers. Then cast them down at the foot of the cross and stamp on them with the truth until they are DEAD.
- Be in authentic community. People are God with skin on (love that expression from Anne Lamotte) and one of the ways He ministers healing and life to you. You can’t live stress-free if you are living people-free, contrary to what the world tells us. But make sure they are people who are also seeking to live stress-free in a spirit of love, power and sanity. I’m talking face-to-face, wipe-each-others-runny-noses kind of community. You may have to look long and hard for this but don’t stop looking till you find it. It’s non-negotiable.
I hesitated naming this post 8 Ways to Live Stress-Free because it makes it sound so easy. Just take 8 easy steps and you’ll be good….That’s what the world wants us to believe. But don’t believe it. It’s just another deception from the ruler of this world whose second language, if his first is lies, is fear.
Truth is, the way to live stress-free is to get sanctified and that’s a life-long process. But it’s a process of progress that you can start today and look forward to being perfected in one day.
See you on the stress-free road!