Friday, November 28, 2008

Under Pressure

Change. These days, the first thing folks are likely to think when they hear that word is something connected to the Obama campaign. Me? I think of loose change you unexpectedly find, like that quarter that I almost vaccuumed up today. The other kind of change is a shift in schedule, or circumstances. That kind of change I just do not do well with.

The last 4-6 weeks there has been a lot of that going on, and most of it has left me sort of going "wha!?" and wondering how I'm supposed to adjust, adapt, and keep rolling right along. Kev's schedule changed for a month, so I had to adjust to that. I was desperately ill for over a month, and everyone, me included, had to adjust to that. One of my daughters moved out, and there was another adjustment. It began to snow much earlier than usual and so there was yet another change up. I received news that Kev and I are going to be grandparents again come spring, so that was one major and monumental adjustment. There's been other stuff too, and it all seems like it came down the pike at the same time, and I haven't been adjusting too well at all. This was my first week back as "teacher" for the kids and I didn't do so hot with a full day's lesson plan, each day. Next week I plan to get back on track, but this week was pretty much a write off.

As I've been thinking about these changes and praying about things these past few weeks, it has occured to me that the saying "grace under pressure" really makes so much more sense that it ever has before. It may sound trivial to lose it over an insignificant change, but when that one change is accompanied by so many others, and you're already not handling it all very well, it's quite possible that the way you react isn't the best possible reaction you could have. Like for example when you're sick, and not in top form. The dog just runs through the kitchen leaving muddy paw prints, after you've mopped. Not 10 seconds later, someone spills lemonade on the same floor, and someone else is crying outside because they've cut their foot on something (because they were playing outside barefoot, right after you told them to put their shoes on) and they're bleeding all over the deck. In case you're wondering, yes, this actually did happen once. How do you respond?

Do you throw up your hands and shout "Calgon, take me away!!" like the uber-stressed out lady in the old commercials? Or, do you calmly and graciously attend to the bleeding kid first, then have the juice-spiller clean up his own mess, while you re-mop the floor, with a smile on your lips and a song in your heart? The first example is actually quite silly, and the second one (while wonderfully serene sounding) isn't very realistic for most moms. Especially moms who are dealing with multiple things going on at once that all need her attention. However, there is much to be said for learning how to gracefully react to multiple stress inducing situations, even if they do all seem to happen at once.

In life, things change all the time. Sometimes a lot of changes happen all at once and sometimes they are very stressful and hard to deal with. There are a couple of things that will bring a great deal of peace however, in times like that. Those two things are prayer, and Bible reading. Those are the two constant things that never change no matter what else is changing. I have noticed a remarkable difference in the way I react to change now, compared to the way I reacted when those two things were not a part of my every day life. Some people call these spiritual disciplines in the Christian life. I simply call them "what Christians do".

There is a great deal of comfort and wisdom to draw on when you open the Scriptures and begin to read. If you're approaching the word with a humble heart preparing to grow and learn something, your focus is immediately drawn away from your circumstances and onto the richness of God's word. Suddenly, your circumstances seem less immediate or less stressful, as your heart and mind is dwelling on the very words of God. Bowing the knee in prayer will likewise put you in a place of humility and grace. You may not even know how to pray for a particular situation anymore (I think we've all been there), but you simply bring it before the Lord once again, and seek His wisdom in how you are to deal with it. You know He is able, you know He is capable, and you know He has the wisdom and guidance you're seeking. There is no such thing as a situation (or even a whole pile of them all at once) that are too big for the Lord to handle. They might feel too big for you, and they might indeed be to much for you, but you know there is nothing you can go to Him for, that He can't handle, for you.

I am convinced that the more you do this, the less those great big, stressful, shifting circumstances will seem so overwhelming. Oh you might still want to lock yourself in the bathroom and take a bubble bath (and I'm a huge advocate of bubble baths) but only after you react with grace, and handle things the way you should.

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