Fiona in January

Fiona in January

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Taking Stock of Stress - A Challenge to Slow Down

I've been reading this book, "Ordinary Mom - Extraordinary God", which is full of short chapters of anecdote-based encouragement for moms.  I love it because not only does it give me some perspective on being a parent, but the chapters are short and I can read one quickly before bed or in between Baby Knives' naptime/playtime or in this morning's case: banana-rice-cereal-projectile-puking time.

This morning's chapter is titled, "Earn a Stress Less Badge" and part of it really resonated with me.  It's so easy for me to stress about work, about money, about whether we're raising Baby Knives "right", about whether she's sleeping enough, eating enough...the list goes on and on.  I've never stopped to think just how much my own seemingly-internal stress could affect my daughter.

Stress is like an insidious disease; it moves and lives to find victims.  But more often than I would like to admit, it is a congenital disease, passed surreptitiously from parents to children.  When I worry about finances, the kids seem on edge.  What are some real life solutions?

Slow Down.  Ghandi said that there was more to life than increasing its speed.  Somehow we have bought into the notion that cramming our days will mean a higher quality of life.  How much real life has passed me by in my race for productivity?  God tells us, "Be still, and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10).  When was the last time you were still?

Take a Media Break.  Psychologist Mary Pipher, in her book The Shelter of Each Other, speaks of the damage the media and its potential to add stress.  She recounts an interesting story about a girl from Tonga.  Pipher asked what it would be like to grow up in a world without media.  The girl responded, "I never saw television...until I came to the United States in high school.  I had a happy childhood.  I felt safe all the time.  I didn't know I was poor or that parents hurt their children or that children hated their parents and I thought I was pretty."  The only way to lessen the media's influence is to choose as a family to spend time together without its constant blaring intrusion.  It is hard to quiet our souls or expect quiet souls from our children when there is so much cluttering our ears and so many images clamoring for our attention.

Simplify.  Henry David Thoreau noted, "Our life is frittered away by detail...Simplify, simplify, simplify!"  Growing up, I always had a cluttered bedroom.  As an adult, I have learned to de-clutter.  The less I have in my home, the less I have to worry about and spend time managing.  The Apostle Paul said contentment is a secret to be learned, "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:11-13)

To live simply is to forgive, let go, grant grace and remember that people are more important than things.

What a challenge to my over-stressed, hyper-aware, media-bogged soul!

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