Faith · Sunday Reflection

Sunday Reflection: Stress

Psalm 4:1-8

Real life is stressful.

I keep daydreaming about my time in school – ah nostalgia. I was good at school. I remember there being times when I felt deadlines, or upcoming assignments. I remember the one class in Japan that I got a “C” in – and how hard I worked for that “C”. I reflect on those times – and find myself sometimes wishing that I was back there. How much one year can change.

I should note, and remind myself, that I am very blessed with the job I have. It pays well and the hours are steady. My manager is supportive and my colleagues are friendly. Most of the time I am good at the job I do. The company I work for is an advocate for a “balanced lifestyle” when so many in our field require their employees to work 60, 70, 80-hour workweeks.

My job is still stressful.

I work closely with sales. And sales is something I’ve never wanted to be in for a reason. Its high-stress; your pay depends on the amount of new business you can bring to the firm. Something that isn’t usually a problem in a bull market – but something that has been difficult because of a multitude of reasons I won’t get into here.

So, when Sales feels the stress – so do I. I hold myself accountable for the work I do – and fret when I think I could have done a better job. Even if I couldn’t have anticipated the situation; I reflect back and point out to myself the signs of where the path was leading. When my deadlines get pushed up, and I’m trying to submit my work on time, I feel disappointed that the rush has made me submit a lower quality product. I’m afraid someone will call me out on it – won’t understand that they cannot scold me more harshly than I have scolded myself. And so I feel stress.

Today’s message made me think about where I would be without Jesus.

I have always been a high-strung person. In high school, people use to come up behind me to see my reaction –  I would often jump and scream. I use to have panic attacks – about the future, about my mortality, about next week’s Calculus test. I also didn’t know God.

The last panic attack I had was in Japan – when I was away from a church and not attending a bible study. The isolation resulted in a white-knuckled grip in the middle of my World Politics class. I don’t remember what the professor was speaking about – I was so sucked into my own little black hole. I remember physically having to shake my head in order to displace the thoughts that were causing my legs to tremble with so much tension.

That was also very early in my faith. I thought I could pursue God on my own – I didn’t understand the need for community. I have learned my lesson and have been involved in a church since then. And I haven’t suffered a panic attack since – praise God.

And so – I think about where I would be if I didn’t have God in my life now. My job is much more stressful than any of the situations I ever got into in high school or college. And yet, I feel more collected than I did even two years ago. I like myself better as a person, and I know that’s not because I changed on my own.

I can relate to King David. I start my day with fervent prayers to God – begging him to guide me, and to help me keep my composure for the work He has set for me. I truly believe that this job I am doing only came to me because of His will.

And when I reflect on God – I can rest in realizing that in the scheme of things, what I do is ultimately very minuscule. Though the work I do is important here on Earth – it does not ultimately determine what our everlasting place will be. And in this I find peace. God has given me a job, a job that I am pretty good at. And the mistakes I make are ultimately not that big – there are so many checks and balances on the transition of money that the worst I can do will only result in a few days delay. A delay that may cause Sales to freak out – but with perspective from God, it allows me to relieve some of the burden I place on myself.

This is a very short season in my life – the tenure of my position is usually about 18 months; I currently sit at 14 months. I can do nearly anything for six months. God knows this. He will use the stress He has placed in my life for a reason. Perhaps to give me perspective on what really matters. His ways are mysterious – but He also guides us closer to him.

And so, though I can beg and pray for Him to help me carry the burden he has placed on me – I can also praise Him for knowing me, for having an ultimate plan for me. Knowing His will is ultimately done.

Amen

“In peace I will lie down and sleep,

for you alone, Lord,

make me dwell in safety.”

Psalm 4:8

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