It all happened when I got stuck, sweating bullets in a parked car with a 3-year old who was certain my body was her gym mat. I was over the wait, but the countdown was ongoing. He was nowhere in sight.
My texts went unanswered.
He knew I was parked.
I dialed him again. Nothing.
Soon after, I saw his phone resting on the car mat.
I tapped my foot, frustrated.
Towing a 3-year old, we headed into the restaurant. We asked some people if they had seen a man with dark brown hair. The one with a boy? No. No. No.
My face reddened. My hand tightened. I pulled the girl out of irritation.
But, breaking the layers of heavy, and as if a messenger of God handed me a “Peace-note”, I remembered the recently-read words in “Sacred Stress.” They reminded me: There is an opportunity found in adversity…
The words said, “A Harvard University study found when participants reframed stressful events as a challenge instead of a threat, they felt energized and performed better.” Hmm…
Could I see this as a challenge rather than a threat that:
1.) Wastes my time?
2.) Ticks me off?
3.) Makes me worried?
The words said, ” Viewing stressful situations as healthy and an opportunity for growth usually eliminates the negative stress-related symptoms.”
What is coming against me, can actually work for me,
when reframed right.
The words said, I can create a positive outcome, a positive view and change the outcome, thereby escaping stress.
Situations don’t rule me, God does.
I can choose to see things from his good view;
it changes my poor view.
I can choose to see thigns from his good view; it changes my poor reactions.
Would this really work?
“I have an opportunity to find and extend the grace of God.”
“God is calling me to lean on him. I will know Him better through this.”
“Maybe it will provide an awesome time for daddy to connect with son as they walk home. I can’t wait to hear.”
“I can show my kids we can beat the power of stress by not being stressed.”
I felt proud of my words, but still, troubled by anxiety.
The words said: “Name it.” This means giving an “honest accounting” of how you feel so you can get to the root emotion.
If you speak positive words but don’t let God tend to your bucking emotions,
you’ll still wildly flail out of control.
When we admit our feelings, see them for what they are, and let God hold them –
We land at peace.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Pet. 5:7
Looking back, I didn’t handle this situation just right. I messed it up. But, guess what?
I have next time. God doesn’t shun me and say, “You are one and done.” Nope. He is the God of ample opportunities. He is the God of perpetual second chances. He is the God of unending learnings. He will help me at my next crossroad. He will instruct me on the way I should go. I feel a little nervous about this. I see the fear in me – the fear of failure. God sees it too. He can handle it. It is not too much.
He whispers, “My perfect love casts out fear.” 1 Jo. 4:18
In this moment, I know I found something. I have arrived somewhere.
It’s called “Sacred Stress”.
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About Sacred Stress: A Radically Different Approach to Using Life’s Challenges for Positive Change
Stress can limit our perspective, leaving us feeling trapped and out of control. But stress can also be a force for good: It is our challenges that most compel us to reach out for relationship. And our proudest moments come after overcoming obstacles we thought were insurmountable.
Based on personal experience and their work as therapists, and drawing on decades of psychological research, George R. Faller, MS, LMFT, and The Rev. Dr. Heather Wright have come to see that stress can be healthy and positive. They equip us with the skills and the knowledge we need to reframe our thinking about stress, understand and embrace our darker emotions, and become stronger through difficulty. View on Amazon.
About the Authors
George R. Faller, MS, LMFT, a lieutenant in the New York City Fire Department for twenty years who participated in 9/11 rescue efforts, is a licensed marriage and family therapist, an American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy supervisor, and an Emotionally Focused certified therapist, supervisor and trainer. He is also the founder and president of the New York Center for Emotionally Focused Therapy and teaches at the Ackerman Institute in Manhattan.
The Rev. Dr. Heather Wright, an ordained Presbyterian minister, is a licensed professional counselor and executive director for a faith-based counseling center. She taught graduate-level counseling and pastoral theology and served as a board certified chaplain. She is the author of Redeeming Eve: Finding Hope beyond the Struggles of Life and Small Group Leadership as Spiritual Direction.