Monday, September 5, 2011

Stress and God

Recently, I did a little bit of reading about stress management. I’ve been feeling an extraordinary amount of stress lately due to work, I won’t get into the details, but it deals with the workload and my boss. I read that stress comes to all of us in varying degrees, it could be so bad that it affects our health, our family or work relations. But some stress is also good. If we didn’t have stress, we would never get that income tax done. The writer was suggesting different ways to deal with stress, and in our secular society I was not surprised that nothing was said about God in dealing with stress.

For a Catholic and as a Secular Franciscan, I know that the best way to deal with stress is through prayer. God will always answer our prayers, but in his own time - we expect immediate answers but as we know, God’s time is not our time, so we need be a little bit patient.

We Catholics have so many ways with our faith to deal with stress. Finding some quiet time to relate to Jesus is a stress reducer in itself. Putting it in the hands of God is a stress reducer. So is meditation, listening to Gregorian chant or some other Catholic/Christian music, the Jesus prayer, studying the Bible.

We also have a fantastic stress reducer — Confession. Why carry that guilt around, that load on our shoulders? When it is so easy to ask for forgiveness.

As Franciscans, we embrace a couple of tools that will help us manage stress. The first is simplicity. The more complex our life is, the greater the stress. Another tool is our efforts to be not materialistic. The more we have, the more we have to worry about. We are also Gospel people. Leading our life according to the Gospel, we learn about Jesus and we learn the wisdom as to how to lead our lives. For example: If there is bitterness or anger toward another, we know that we should not go to bed without addressing it. Carrying grudges and not forgetting, takes a lot of energy and adds to our stress. We are reminded that God feeds the birds of the air, that he clothes the flowers of the field, and as we are so much more valuable God most assuredly will take care of us.

We know that God helps those who help themselves. If you are feeling stress from work or interpersonal relations, or finances or whatever, ask yourself what is the one most important thing I can do to address this issue. Once you address it and act upon it. You’re on your way to reducing that stress.

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