How do you handle pressure?
Stress is a part of life, but as women, I believe we often make a few simple mistakes in the way we handle it. Do you ever tell yourself and others you’re fine when you’re not? Or feel like you don’t have time for your friends or your faith because you have too much going on with work, school or family?
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
James 1:2-4 (MSG)
The Bible teaches that pressure is not always a bad thing; in fact it’s a gift because it helps us grow into the kind of people we are meant to be. Breaking unhealthy habits in the way we handle stress can make us stronger, more mature, and able to ultimately reach our goals.
Pretending Things Don’t Bother You
Therefore this is what the Holy One of Israel says:
“Because you have rejected this message,
relied on oppression
and depended on deceit,
this sin will become for you
like a high wall, cracked and bulging,
that collapses suddenly, in an instant.
Do you depend on deceit to handle pressure? That means lying even to yourself about how you are really doing. I remember during my first semester at UC Berkeley I felt so much pressure, I thought I was going to explode. But I wouldn’t talk or pray about how overwhelmed I was. Once I did, I felt so relieved.
Often as women we don’t want to admit when we are afraid, overwhelmed, angry, hurt, lonely or insecure. We handle pressure by going into “survival mode;” we tell ourselves and others we are “okay” or “fine” when we aren’t.
The Bible teaches that when we depend on deceit to handle pressure we will eventually crack and collapse. It’s not the situation that is making us collapse, but rather our deceit and refusal to admit what we really think and feel.
If you find yourself cracking physically or emotionally, take time to pray and tell God the truth about what you really think and feel. You’ll find the pressure lifted even if the circumstance hasn’t changed.
Trying to Be Perfect
3 When I kept it all inside,
my bones turned to powder,
my words became daylong groans.
4 The pressure never let up;
all the juices of my life dried up.
5 Then I let it all out;
I said, “I’ll make a clean breast of my failures to God.”
Suddenly the pressure was gone—
my guilt dissolved,
my sin disappeared.
Psalm 32:2-5 (MSG)
As a major perfectionist, I hate admitting when I have done something wrong. But most of the pressure in my life builds up because I won’t just admit my sins, mistakes and guilt. For example one thing that causes me a lot of stress is when I have bad motives for what I am doing. I may be trying to help someone, but I am worried the whole time how I look and if I am doing a good job. My selfish motives cause much more stress than the person I am trying to help.
The next time you are in a stressful situation, ask yourself if there is anything you feel guilty about. We all make mistakes. God wants us to be able to let out all our failures, find forgiveness and move on without the burden of guilt on our shoulders.
Being Too Busy for God
As pressure and stress bear down on me,
I find joy in your commands.
I think one of the biggest mistakes we make when stressed is to stop spending time in the Bible and prayer. We suddenly feel we don’t have much time to pray or read the Bible, attend services or spend time with spiritual friends. If work, school or other relationships seem more pressing and important than God, it means we see Him as an extra thing on our to-do list, instead of a friend who can help us let down and give us the power to handle the stress in our lives.
Reading scriptures is the only thing that can calm me down when anxious. Study scriptures like Philippians 4:6 and Jeremiah 17:5-8 to learn to find spiritual strength and internal peace no matter your circumstances.