It can now be said that I am officially a sophomore at Valparaiso University! I am two weeks into the fall semester now and the time is flying by. This last week seems like it just began and now it’s already over. I have a sense that this is what the rest of the year will be like. To any new college freshmen reading this, be prepared: Thanksgiving will come quicker than it ever has before and finals will be right around the corner in a heartbeat. In addition to my academic life, I have taken on several leadership positions this year including serving as a peer minister in a freshmen residence hall, the chaplain for the Social Action Leadership Team, an Ambassador in Admissions, and various other positions in different organizations. It is an extremely busy semester for me, and I have begun to realize that I may have bitten off more than I can handle. Stress abounds in my daily life and sometimes I struggle to get a grasp on it.
How does one manage stress? They don’t really teach kids how to handle it in high school. It’s just assumed that you know what to do when life gets busy and deadlines come at you from all directions. There is actually no easy answer to this question I believe. Sure, there are self-help books that will teach you different techniques like breathing exercises and better time management. They will definitely help you, but I think there is more to relieving stress than what the Help for Dummies book can tell you.
As a Christian, I don’t believe that self-care stops at taking naps each day to get more rest. Instead, I’ve recently been pushed to find solace and peace in my faith. My favorite verse about dealing with stress comes from 1 Peter 5:6-7: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (ESV). Christ came down to earth to experience the anxieties, burdens, and stresses that are a part of everyday life for each one of us. I actually love the Message paraphrase of this verse: “So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.” I read this the other night and it hit me. We are not meant to deal with this stress on our own. We are to be “content with who we are” and not put false fronts up saying that we can handle everything that life throws at us on our own. It is actually ok to say that everything is not fine and dandy. God cares about us and his Son carries all of our worries on his back. How amazing is that?
As a result, we are to “live carefree” and be happy with who we are! That is freedom my friends! We are no longer under the burden of stress, or more importantly the burden of sin and condemnation, for Christ has set us free. Let us rejoice in that fact, that we are children of the Father, and that no stressor will be too great for us when Christ is walking by our side, or carrying us when we can no longer walk. Therefore, pray when you’re stressed and take a few minutes and open up the Word to see what God has to say to you, for He is with you in your times of joy and your times of need. Christ is the ultimate stress management counselor! Praise be to God!