Ever heard the trendy catch phrase 'too blessed to be stressed'?
I've come across this sort of Christian reasoning recently: that if we are truly following Jesus our lives should be simple, light and burden-free as we can rely on Jesus to give us everything we need.
While I'd love to feel so content in life that nothing stresses me out, is this mantra attainable? Some of this makes sense, but at the same time I disagree.
The stress effect
Having completed almost three years of university now, I feel I've had plenty of experience with the effects of stress and various ways of dealing with it. Living in an environment where I am in close proximity to other university students has put me in a position to observe a range of responses to the emotions of stress.
From people disappearing into their rooms for days on end, to others who can't seem to stop talking or voicing their worriesâwhen study week comes around, stress levels are certainly running high. At times I've let stress get the better of me and become one of these people too.
When I do start to feel the pressure and those feelings of stress creep in, I'm reminded that Christians shouldn't feel stress, and this brings a sense of guilt. Maybe I really am a sad excuse for a Christian if I'm feeling stressed?
Recently I have come to realise guilt over this matter is as useless as the feelings of stress itself.
Feelings of stress are unavoidable. They are a part of our genetic make up and a normal physiological response built in us by God himself. What really counts is our response to these feelings of stress and how we make a conscious decision to work with God in dealing with our stress.
In a perfect world we might trust God completely, so there would be no need to feel stress. But none of us are perfect and we should look at these times of stress as opportunities to grow our trust in God.
Trying not to lose my head
The first thing I do when feeling stress creep in is take some time out to remember all that God has done for me so far. I try to remember that God is in control and he has given me gifts and abilities and he has a plan for me, so anything that happens will happen for a reason.
I then pray about my worries and ask for strength and clarity of mind to help me deal with the stress. If you pour your heart out to God about your worries, He will listen, and you will feel a weight lifted.
I also find deep breathing, music and meditating on His words (in particular Philippians chapter 4, verses 6 and 7) help me to regain a sense of calm so I can carry on with the task ahead of me.
And finally, I make an effort to keep reminding myself that stress will literally not change the outcome of anything. There really is no point to stressing! Reminding myself of God's sovereign plan for my life helps me to grow as a Christian.
If we were perfect a simple and stress free life would be easy. But no one is perfect in his or her trust in God. God gives us challenges, not so we will live a life full of burdens, but so that we may grow in trust with him.
I thank God that feelings of stress can be part of the process of growing to completely trust in Christ.
Kelly Bingham is a University student with a love of animals amongst other things and is studying a Bachelor of Veterinary Science. She lives on campus and loves to socialise and get with the other University students and the elders at her church near university and at home. In her free time she likes sewing, reading, running by the beach and taking photos for her own fashion blog.
Kelly Bingham's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/kelly-bingham.html