I’m sitting with friends in a coffee shop. One describes a recent situation in her life that left her feeling drained and discouraged. It relates to her work, and if she chooses, she doesn’t have to deal with this particular circumstance again. She asks, “But isn’t suffering just part of the Christian life? Don’t I just have to put up with this?” Places like recovery center for drug addiction can also help one de-stress along with de-addiction
My friend is lovely and kind, smart and devoted to helping others. Her question comes from the best of intentions, and I love her for it. I’ve heard similar questions from people in my past work as a counselor and life coach. I’ve asked this kind of question myself. But this morning I have an ah-ha moment along with my almond milk latte. if you’re often stressed and you feel it hinders your performance, it is best to get treatment from reliable centers like West Palm treatment center.
I think of a phrase about Jesus from Hebrews, “for the joy set before him he endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2). Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal discovered people are better able to deal with stress (let’s use that word rather than “suffering” because it’s more common and less loaded) when they’re pursuing a goal. We can endure the discomfort and pain of now when we think of future benefits — the joy set before us.
When we find ourselves experiencing stress, we can pause and ask ourselves these two questions:
- What is the joy set before me? When I run, it’s uncomfortable, but I know it will make me stronger. If someone chooses to overcome an addiction, it’s challenging, but there’s freedom at the finish line. If we take on a project at work because we believe in the good it can do, we’re driven to make the sacrifices needed to make it a reality. If we envision the people our children will one day become, the dirty diapers and sleepless nights can be meaningful, not just mundane. Being clear about the joy set before us is empowering.
- If I can’t think of any joy set before me and this stress is optional, do I need to eliminate it from my life? This is the somewhat scandalous question that’s actually more relevant to the conversation I had with my friend at the coffee shop, and to many of us.
Author and researcher Marcus Buckingham did a study with thousands of women to discover what made them thrive. The results weren’t what we might expect. What mattered wasn’t a woman’s income, marital status, whether or not she had children, or any other external factor. The women who thrived spent more time each day in moments that made them feel stronger, that led them toward more joy in the long-term.
Buckingham says in Find Your Strongest Life, “You must face up to the fact that some moments have negative energy for you. They are emotionally draining. Trying to put a positive charge on these weak moments is, at best, a short-term survival strategy: it may help you get through the day, but, over time, it will hollow out your life.”
Yes, we will all experience stress and face challenges. But as women we often do things out of guilt, obligation, an attempt to meet expectations, a desire to please people, fear, or a false belief we have to be perfect. We put ourselves at higher risk for burnout, depression, and anxiety.
It’s okay to pause and look at what’s draining or discouraging us. It’s necessary to let go of what continually diminishes our souls. It’s wisdom, not weakness, to be intentional with our experiences, emotion, and energy. It’s responsible to release what God never intended us to carry so we can move forward in love and freedom. Sometimes the most spiritual response to stress is persevering, and sometimes it’s walking away.
Let’s dare to start asking each other a new question, “What’s the joy set before you? What’s the joy set before me?” Then let’s take the next brave step God has for us without guilt, shame, or apology.
It’s responsible to release what God never intended us to carry so we can move forward in love and freedom. - @holleygerth Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
This IS an ah-ha moment. I’ve been experiencing a lot of stress in my life and it’s taking a physical toll. Being that Enneagram #2 Helper (and sometimes people-pleaser) I need to be on the lookout for what is the JOY that is set before me? Is this stress necessary or self-inflicted? Is it leading to a greater good or simply to burnout? Thanks for giving me a much needed new lens through which to filter my stress.
Mary Geisen says
Thank you, Holley for this reminder today. Asking “what is the joy set before me”? relieves the stress I am carrying especially when I answer it honestly. It also made me think of the perspective changer of choosing to say “I get to” rather than “I have to.”
You’ve described a very good (and Biblical) way to think about our stressors in life. For me and a lot of other women I know, it’s sometimes hard to let go of a stressor (or maybe responsibility) that once served us well or we were called to do for a season. But as life changes and seasons change, God can lead us to something else. Perhaps serving in the church nursery is not where you are thriving anymore and serving in some other way could help you and others bloom.
Powerful, necessary shift. Thrive has been a word that’s elusive, but worth the effort to intentionally head toward. As a Catholic Christian, I’ve been asking myself the very question your friend speaks of above. Your sharing gives me some breadcrumbs to help me continue to step forward. Thank you.
Michele Morin says
Suzanne Stabile (the Enneagram godmother) puts it this way: “Is it mine to do?”
What you’ve written here brings that question to my mind in a new way, because so often I take on things for the reasons you mentioned, and the poor fit causes stress–and maybe I’m preventing someone else from stepping into the void and it would be a perfect fit for them.
Brynn Greene says
Yes! To remember the joy set before us! That just may be my new catchphrase! Thanks for sharing your words of wisdom!
Thank you for your insight. It speaks directly to a situation in my family. I now need to determine if I need to persevere or walk away. Praying for the wisdom.
This is so good, Holley! It will remind me to stop and ask that question. Thank you!
Holley, I love your thoughts here. I am a driven list-maker. I stay up too late trying to get it all done. It doesn’t help that I’m also a procrastinator who suddenly realizes I need to finish my list before I head to bed! Occasionally I draw arrows to the next day, but I think I need to re-evaluate my list with these thoughts in mind. What’s the joy set before me?!
Thank you so much for this! — And as I thank you, I thank God… for I’m realizing when I can’t figure out what the joy is anymore, you are reminding me it is He Who has to set it before me — “The joy set before us.” There are so many areas where I’ve spent decades thinking I was doing the right thing, doing my best. I’m finding evidence of traumatic truths — decades of deception, and I am broken, my truths and the joy I thought I was going toward gone. I’m worn and can’t see the joy anymore. So, I see I have one more choice… to TRUST GOD anyway. And PRAISE HIM anyway. He has not changed. He’s only revealed. And I am asking Him to heal me and show me what new, true, authentic, hope-filled joy He is setting before me now. I’m reaching out with both hands, settling in wait for Him. Crying out is done. I trust His character, even if I don’t understand this path of pain. I trust His creative power and redemptive love and restoring grace to heal and make me whole — and stronger in the broken places, because of the broken places. I know, in HIM, those places will eventually become my greatest strength. Hmmm…. maybe that’s the joy He is setting before me. I will persevere in HIM, but walk away from that which has destroyed me. Again, thank you so much for sharing this.
Beth Williams says
Women tend to be overachievers. We think we must do it all & well. By so doing we are making ourselves worn out women. God never intended for us to do everything. In trying to do it all we may actually be robbing others of their joy. I recently read a Face book post on releasing our burdens to God. The person related it to being out in a boat on the lake fishing & just throwing your burdens out there never to see them again. Life can get uncomfortable & hard at times. But not all the stresses in life are meant for us to tackle. Matthew 11:28-30 states “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Lets examine if the stress is optional & unnecessary. If so then eliminate it from your life. Great questions to ponder.
Such a needed perspective!! Thank you Holley!!