I’ve told this story a number of times in the last few weeks. Too many times I think because I feel like a broken record each time I relay it. Yet the revelation given, the perspective that shifted was a turning point for me – one that I want to always remember and look back on when I start to get caught up in the rat-race.
I was having lunch with a friend I’d only just got to know better in the last 6 months. I think it had been a month since I had last seen her but because we seemed to be on the same wave length on so many topics, there was too much to catch up on in the maximum 1 hour lunch break I had.
Even as we sat down to peruse the menu before ordering our food, I was figuring out what was the most urgent thing on my mind to share in the limited time we had. I still felt a bit on edge and in a rush until my friend said grace over the food. I can’t remember word for word but it was something along the lines of: “God, I know that we’ve got lots to catch up on but help us to just enjoy the moment, enjoy each other’s presence and your presence with us over this lunch break.”
Nothing supremely profound but what I needed to hear in that moment. It was like a light bulb went off in my head and all I could hear was, “enjoy the moments I give you” and my mind was flooded with verses like “come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest” and “do not worry about tomorrow (Matt 6:25-34)”. And all of a sudden, I felt my stress levels decrease. I felt myself relax for perhaps the first time in months.
I only recognised this after a week of this newfound state that I’d most likely been living at a consistent level of hightened stress since I had started full time work. Not cool. I had had nights where I would just cry out to God, complaining that it was too hard to balance all I had on my plate, that I just wanted to give up. It was only once I stopped trying to micro-manage my life and relax in the knowledge that I didn’t need to be in control of everything coz God was/is, that I started to feel alive again. I felt able to give of myself without feeling so drained all the time. I felt like I could in fact enjoy the moment with the people I caught up with, without stressing out over the things I had to do in the next moment. It was incredibly freeing and I’m so glad God used the unassuming prayer of a new friend to give me my wake up call :).
Now I’m not saying I’ve reached a stage where I no longer stress about things. What I am saying is that when I feel my stress levels rising, I know how to counteract them by surrendering those feelings and stressors to God and acknowledge his sovereignty over that particular situation – knowing that each stressful moment is an opportunity to experience God’s grace in my life. And when this shift in perspective happens, that’s when real peace and freedom is found :)