My 7-year-old has been super emotional lately. Any small little thing will set him off into uncontrolled tears. His sister won’t let him play with her toy, or we say ‘No’ to that 3rd book at bedtime – then tears flood like it is the end of the world!
I don’t know if he’s tired, or doesn’t feel well, or is maybe just working some things out. He naturally ‘wears his heart on his sleeve,’ as the cliche goes. I sometimes worry how he will cope when real tragedy strikes. As a parent it is frustrating. Seriously, kid – what is wrong now?!? But we set that frustration aside (or try to anyway) and encourage him to work through it. Just stop for a moment. Take a big, deep breath! Think about what you are upset about. Is it worth this reaction? Sometimes it works for him; sometimes it doesn’t.
I get like this. (Maybe we all do?) I have moments (or hours or days) when I feel lost in my head – unable to shake the anxiety and fear and stress. Unlike my son, I typically internalize these emotions. I hold it deep inside in a growing ball of negative energy that will unexpectedly explode when someone picks the wrong thing to say at the wrong time! Sounds like a healthy, happy way to get through life, right? Not so much…
I’ve had one of “those” weeks – the stress of balancing work, family, church, and my own desire to get more than a few hours of sleep each night compounds on itself. I realized just this morning that somehow the stress of the week has been manageable. I think I’ve been subconsciously taking the advice we’ve given to my son all week long. In those moments when the anxiety began to creep in, I found myself taking time to pause; I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and simply said: “God give me peace.”
I’m reminded of breath prayers – a tool for prayer which I haven’t used for a while. It is like a mantra – breath in, breath out, repeating the same simple, repetitive words of prayer. My breath prayer has been “Abba, Father – Your love overflows.” A gentle reminder of a God whose love is so great is spills out over all!
I know I’ve written posts very similar to the theme above – I may have even used the exact same words or scripture. But I don’t mind writing it down again. This a reminder I need over and over again! The world is filled with anxiety and stress – some real and some inflicted on ourselves. The world does try to provide ways to cope with stress; a quick fix!
Don’t get me wrong – a delicious chocolate cupcake or a giant glass of red wine can do wonders for stress and anxiety. Thank God for such delightful little gifts! But the joy and peace from these things is very short-lived. If we want true, lasting peace it can only come from full reliance on God, trust in God’s presence, and ongoing conversation with a God who desires to be a part of every moment of our day.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27
I made a short drive to Panera this morning for some delicious hazelnut coffee. (Coffee – another one of those fabulous but short-lived methods to reduce stress!) I was reflecting on God’s peace – pondering what to write, but had no words down. So I’ll end with the song that played. I’ve either not heard this before, or didn’t pay attention to the words until today – but it spoke to my heart this morning. How beautiful when God works through music!
“These are the things that I need to pray; cuz I can’t find peace any other way.”