Call – Opelika-Auburn News
How to handle the
hassle of the holidays
Christmas – “Tis the season to be
jolly.” Yes, but it is also the season to
be stressed. The hassle of the holidays can be so exasperating that we want to
if you are at the breaking point, let’s explore this thing called stress.
The word has a negative ring to it. Look at
the words we use to define stress: pressure, strain, hassle, tension, trauma, anxiety
and worry. So stress is bad; right?
Well, the truth is, stress is not
all bad. We can, for example, be glad that we have issues that demand the very
best that we can bring to the table. Final exams exert pressure on us but
without that stress none of us would ever finish high school or college.
Driving in bad weather is a hassle but the tension keeps us alert and helps us
Stress, then, is a sign we are alive! The
only people free from stress are either dead or insane. So the absence of
stress is not the solution. To be alive is to experience stress. What we need
then is the wisdom to manage stress.
Some years ago a lovely young
psychiatrist patiently helped me understand why a bleeding ulcer had almost
killed me. She convinced me that the ulcer resulted from the way I was handling
Her words still linger in the
corridors of my mind: “Ulcers can be caused by many things but my guess is that
you are not handling your stress very well.” Tears filled my eyes as I admitted
she was right.
Her advice made sense. “Take some
time to rethink your priorities. Then live one day at a time trying to be
faithful to your priorities. Focus on what is important to you and try to
ignore the meaningless things that sap your time and strength.”
I took her advice but added a bit of
faith to it. Faith helped me deal with two mistakes I had been making. My first
mistake was that I had tried in vain to be a Super Christian. And I had failed
miserably trying to be a model pastor, a model father and a model husband. In
each category I was a failure. Finally it dawned on me that public image is not
as important as being a transparent, authentic human being who hurts and bleeds
just like everybody else.
My second mistake was that I had not
practiced what I preached. I told people to trust God but I had failed to trust
God myself. I was in charge, not God. I was banking on my own cleverness instead
of the grace of God. Finally the Lord helped to quit trying so hard and let him
take over. It got easier once I became willing to say, “I can’t but He can – if
I am willing to trust Him!”
After that I did my best to stop
trying to please people and began doing what seemed right to me in the eyes of
God. It makes a powerful difference to realize that God, not other people, is
your true audience.
Pleasing people is a futile effort. We make ourselves miserable by trying to live
like other people think we should. To do so is to be enslaved by the
expectations of others. Instead we need to get a firm grip on our own
priorities and allow them shape our lifestyle. We have no control on what other
people think; therefore we should give our energy and attention to doing what
we believe is best for us.
It is not easy to ignore the meaningless little
things that sap our time and energy. And to do so is a daily and lifelong task.
The key is to “not sweat the small stuff.” There in a few words is a great key to
managing stress. Many issues are not worth a moment’s thought yet most of the
fights we have are over insignificant things -- like forgetting to put the cap
back on the toothpaste. Since life is too short to quibble about trivial matters
we should learn to ignore frivolous things and move on.
We would be wise to shorten the list of
issues that trigger our anger button. It is foolish to become angry about the
least little thing when it would take only a little effort to flush small
irritations down the drain.
Laughter is often helpful. We can learn to
laugh at ourselves for being so dumb as to fuss about a toothpaste tub cap. When
we succeed we can pat ourselves on the back for a small victory over stress.
Since stress can kill us, or make us wish we
were dead, we simply must find ways to manage it. Though it is not easy it is possible. By
managing stress we can replace hassle with joy during these wonderful holidays
– and the result could be a MERRY CHRISTMAS!
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