Over the last couple of weeks I have been really struggling with stress. This stress has been caused by numerous things piling up around me with my work and personal life. Between going to work and online college, I have honestly neglected my marriage and most importantly my relationship with God.
My relationship with my wife is very important. We have worked very hard at creating a marriage that in all honesty gets better each year. I can say that because we have put lots of time and effort into learning each other and most importantly developing unconditional love for one another. The love that my wife and I share is one that requires true faith in each other because we continue to love each other even though we have at times hurt each other in different ways.
During this time of extreme stress a couple of weeks ago I found myself being very short with my wife, saying hurtful things or even demanding things from her instead of asking. During this time frame we were very much at each other’s throats over the littlest things. Even as I prepared the material for the bible study on Wednesday night I was highly irritated because I had other things that need to be done like yard work or a paper to be written for school. I couldn’t even concentrate on the Word of God.
This past Sunday the bickering, arguing and hurtful words ran its course; we decided to go to the park and get to a place that was free of distractions to talk about are recent actions toward each other. As we talked I had a revelation that my relationship with God had taken a backseat to everything else going on. I realized that temptations where coming at me from all directions, I was entertaining thoughts, watching a lot of TV, playing video games, not managing my language… I was allowing these things to take the place of God; I was justifying my actions because of my stress.
When this stressful time hit, I started to think that the things that I was involved in where important enough to merit my impatience, lack of grace toward others or my attempt to have a tight grip of control in my life. My prayer time had become almost scripted, I was just going through the motions and it was the first time in months that I had an impure thought. I was neglecting my wife, co-workers, friends, and worst of all God. It is truly amazing how fast and easy we forget God when stress hits or when we start feeling like we are losing control, the control that we never had in the first place. After all that God has pulled me through, I still find myself learning these valuable lessons, realizing that life is about God and not about me.
Stress looks differently to everyone. For men, it is usually that time when we turn to something that is instant and gives temporary relief, i.e.: pornography. The status quo of the world is to allow yourself to indulge in the pleasures of the world, have a few drinks, visit a strip club, visit porn sites, release your stress through some sort of sinful outlet; this only causes more pain and gives temporary relief. Also, these actions create dependence for relief from the everyday grind which in turn becomes an addiction. But what do you do with stress, how do you get over it or find relief? You get over yourself, I am sorry if that is rude but seriously, once we realize that it’s not about getting our selfishness met by something created by the world we can move on to a closer relationship with God.
The stress of life can sometimes cause us to fall away from God, falling away from God will cause us to be exposed to temptation. When we entertain those temptations we are literally flirting with suicide. In stressful situations or in situations when we feel like failures in the world we should use those opportunities to allow God to be glorified. Times of difficulty are the best times to embrace the Holy Spirit and to become desperate for God. God will allow us to experience failure and disappointment because he wants to demonstrate to you that He is still in control.
Let me put it this way… When I am having a tuff time in life, I need to thank God for the struggles so that I can demonstrate that God is great and that knowing Him brings peace and joy. Would you be so bold to praise Him and thank Him for your struggles?