I usually don’t have a lot of stress. I’m a laid back person that tends to roll with the punches. I tend to remain calm in situations that would break most people. The only thing that really stresses me out is the state of my financials. No matter how I work our budget at home, there is always more going out than coming in.
Those words were all that I had written for a blog post that I started nearly 4 years ago. I skim through old drafts from time to time and the title of this one caught my eye, but I didn’t expect to see that. I thought that I had maybe started a post on how to avoid unnecessary stress, or maybe tips on how to relieve stress.
It’s amazing how four years can make a significant difference in life. If nothing else, my perspective has definitely shifted since that time. In 2015, I left a secure job in a church because I was unsatisfied with my position and lack of promising opportunities to change my role.
Five months later, due to personal reasons, I left the church planting network with which I had planned to plant a church. I had nothing to fall back on financially or vocationally, but to stay would have been unhealthy for me and my family.
In that season of uncertainty, I began to write. As I reflect on that season now, I think I stopped writing because I still had some pride. I didn’t want people to think I was a failure or that I had made the wrong decision. I was worn out and exhausted, but not because of the stress of our financial situation. I was worn out from trying to sustain a better-than-reality image to wear for the world around me.
Our cashflow situation is not much different than it was then. Our housing situation is less than ideal. Schooling for the kids is always a concern when we are thinking through decisions. Many of our dreams and passions are not yet realized. Without a miracle or clear act of God, there is still a long road ahead of us in all of these situations, but everything seems different now.
You might still look at me and think that I don’t get stressed out. It’s not a facade. I do experience stress, but I handle it differently. I know that I am not who my bank account says I am. My physical shelter does not define me. I am not judged by where my kids go to school. My dreams and passions have not grown dim.
God has placed deep desires in my heart. He has done the same with my wife. These desires line up with what He calls His followers to do through Scripture. God is faithful; more-so than we can even imagine. I know that He has a plan that is better than anything I can develop.
Over the past 15 years (and more if I really dig deep), I have experienced the provision of God, and I’m still learning to trust His ways and timing. As the old hymn goes, “How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er… O for grace to trust Him more.” Looking back and seeing tangible examples of how He has always been patient and kind, always protected and provided, and has never kept a record of my wrongs or ever failed me gives me hope for the future and faith to trust Him more.
Truly knowing that truth means that there is no need to try to be something I’m not. It means that I don’t have to worry about my past or what the future might hold. Stress does not have to wear me down because my identity and strength comes from The Perfect Source. I still get tired. It’s a sign that I need rest rather than a symptom of trying to be who I am not.