Ok, so I’ll admit it: I'm terrible under stress.
In fact, I get stressed ever too easily. People tell me that I tend to “drown in a cup of water”—eek, that’s no fun. And you know how life works…when it rains, it usually pours. So you can only imagine me drowning in a rainstorm.
It doesn’t happen too often, but when it does, the smallest aggravation can make me feel like my whole life is in shambles. What’s the result of my stress? Me acting like a complete jerk. Yep…I get a major TUDE when I’m stressed. Can you relate?
Frankly, I never usually care who is on the other end of my fits. In my selfishness I tend to think, “They don’t know how stressed I am right now, so they’re just going to have to deal with it.”—I blame whoever is in front of me, and justify my snappy-ness and my quickness of anger.
This past week, I was having a three day uber-selfish-streak and was entirely too frustrated with life, when it suddenly hit me: “who in the world do I think I am?”
The straight-forward “aha-moment” came as I sat at a Starbucks after yet another stressful morning. I decided to open my Bible to Romans eight. As my eyes scanned the page, they were suddenly glued to verse six. While guzzling down my iced-coffee, I wide-eyedly read: “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”
Now, the “mind governed by the flesh” simply means my very own natural, egotistical state. See, when my mind is governed by my selfishness, I am going to have a pretty rotten attitude and people are going to dislike being around me. And trust me, no-one wants to be THAT girl (or guy).
What does the second part of that verse say? “The mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” When my mind is governed by the Spirit (of God) then what’s the result? Life…and PEACE.
Yes, this word is thrown around a lot. But, as I pondered the word "peace", I naturally thought, “hm, what is the opposite of peace?” Well, it’s STRIFE, isn’t it? Strife literally means “angry or bitter disagreement; conflict.”
Eek! The definition of strife is the exact thing that I settle for when I’m…stressed.
We all want peace, don’t we? I mean, we have a whole culture born on the deep desire for peace (hi, hippies). But I get it, who wouldn’t want peace in their lives?
Well, our long-time friend Ghandi had a pretty applicable solution to this. He once said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
It's simple, want peace in your life? Well, ya gotta be about it, first.
James, Jesus’ brother, and the super-wise author of the book of, well, James, wrote in chapter three verses 17 & 18: “But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.”
Oof. Thank you for that beautiful reminder, James. If I want peace, I have to choose it every single day. The battle starts in my very own mind.
Moral of the story, folks: Stress is a choice and peace is a choice. But most importantly: being stressed is no excuse to be a jerk.
Let’s be peaceable humans. The world is in enough chaos on it’s own.