“My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body.”
Proverbs 4:20-22

I lay there wondering, when did this happen?  I cannot even recall what could have caused it.  My chest is tight.  Deep breaths and calm and quiet do not even touch it.  My mind has been fuzzy and I have been forgetful.  Stomach aches have become common and I cannot even recall the last time I felt energetic.

I am stressed.  Yep.  This mama who has been working at simplifying her life and finding God’s peace is stressed.  However, it may not be for the reason you think.  While life can be quite busy at times and my schedule seems full even with my best efforts to keep it under control, that is not what makes my chest tight and my mind fuzzy.  I do not have a high stress job.  Being a parent is perhaps the most difficult task I have ever undertaken, but in the end, I am incredibly blessed.  No, I am stressed because things are not going the way I hoped.

Let me explain a little further.  As many of you know, I am the mother of three young boys.  That in and of itself has been an incredible learning experience, but I can honestly say these boys have helped make me a better person.  The problem is unreasonable expectations.  Surprise of all surprises, my children do completely irrational things from time to time.  Generally, this would not throw me off kilter, but couple that with an extended period of sleep deprivation and you have a mother who is ready to pull her hair out by the end of some days.  I know, you may be reading this and saying to yourself, all mothers are sleep deprived, heck most people are sleep deprived, why does that stress you out?  The truth is, it is because with sleep deprivation, it is difficult to function at full capacity, and I dislike not being able to go at full tilt at all times.

I am rather ashamed to write this because I give the advice that scaling back is necessary in some seasons of life.  Rely on others when you can.  Do not worry if you are not able to do as many things as you think you should, God may be working on you.  So, here goes, I am going to follow my own advice.  I know God is working in me because I know that I often take on an attitude of “I can do it all,” and that is not healthy.  If I do not pay attention to these physical signs of stress, I could be looking at even larger health problems in the future.  Even worse, I could endanger my relationship with my children and my husband if I do not begin to get my perspective straight.

Proverbs 4:20-22 tells us: “My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body.”  This is where I aim to get my perspective, the Word that gives me life and health.  This does not mean I will never get sick, never feel pain, never suffer.  It does mean that my mental and spiritual health will become better and the physical symptoms will start to decrease.

My goals over the next several weeks are simple.  I need to regain my focus in my time with God.  I need to continue to remember the numerous blessings I have in the midst of fatigue and frustration.  I need to seek help when I need it and let things go that are not necessary.

There is so much more to this fight against stress, but this is only the beginning.  I have hope because of the promises Jesus gave us during his life on earth.  In John 14:27, Jesus says: “I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”  I have faith in that promise and will cling to it as I start this journey again.