Crises have this way of putting life in perspective.
If you watched the news last week, you may have seen my city in flames. San Diego had, at one point, 9 wildfires raging at once across acres of brush and even some highly populated areas. My brother’s family evacuated their house and my mom stayed with us since the smoke was so thick near her home.
From the first announcement, I started thinking of one thing: if we have to leave quickly, what do we need to take with us?
Know how long that list was? About 12 items long. Including our 6 people and 2 pets.
TWELVE items. Of all that drives me crazy trying to keep this house clean with my family running around. Twelve things matter.
The firestorms made me want to do things differently once life got back to normal (if it did). Because some of what’s crept into daily life is toxic to peace and focus. It slows me down when I need to be quick on my relational and professional feet. It leaves me tired by 10 a.m., even with the giant mug of coffee.
Who needs that kind of superfluous stuff hanging around in our lives?
When crises hit, all the things that drain our energy and cause us stress fade instantly. We suddenly see what really matters and what must be preserved at all costs. Will we wait for a crisis to happen before we start making better choices and streamlining our lives to include more of what matters and less of what doesn’t?
5 Things to Stop Right Now If You’re Tired of Feeling Stressed
- Doing it all yourself. One of the first few things God said once He’d created man was that it was “not good” for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18), so God made a helper for him. It’s still not good for us to live and try to do everything life requires of us alone. Nothing’s changed there! So whatever it takes, we have to invite and allow people to help us do what needs doing.
- Doing stuff that doesn’t matter. Proverbs 28:19 says “Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty.” Some of what we’ve come to consider crucial on our task list is, in fact, worthless. Maybe it was important at some point, but our lives have outgrown it. Take time periodically to consider what still matters, and cut the rest.
- Putting off exercise. There is always a reason not to take that walk, go for that bike ride, get in the pool, or get back to the gym. Very few of the reasons are actually valid. What IS valid is all the research on merits of exercise for our cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, emotional and mental health. We don’t have to run marathons, friend. Just move in some way, and through that, glean the stress-reducing benefits.
- Letting your phone tell you what matters. Nothing makes me crazier than a phone (mine or anyone else’s) that’s buzzing or beeping all day. We don’t let our toddlers get away with whining, so why do we let our phones whine at us all the time? Turn off the sounds that come with non-emergency notifications on your phone. Better yet, turn off notifications. Remind the phone that YOU decide when you’ll check email or Facebook or whatever else can seem so bossy so often!
- Letting anyone else decide how you spend your time. Is what we’ve got planned—today, tomorrow, next week—life-giving and loving to people? Does it honor God? Or is it based on fear, guilt, entitlement, or the need for approval? If we feel like others dictate our schedules, we’re letting go of responsibility for moments entrusted to us. It’s God who gives us each breath and moment; we can’t let other people dictate what we do with them.
Today is probably not going to be a day of crisis for most of us. Let’s stop doing things that will create crises for us down the road, shall we?
Your friend in running after joy,