October 14, 2005

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

A few Christian ideas for stress management

“Life is short … learn to enjoy it!” said a friend, realizing I was a bit stressed. How many times have we ourselves said something similar to someone else? This friend then shared something found on the Internet at John Mark Ministries http://jmm.aaa.net.au/ ), directed by Australian Baptist minister Rowland C. Croucher.

Croucher wrote about an unidentified lecturer raising a glass of water with his hand, then asking, “How heavy is this?”

After various audience responses, the lecturer said if he held it for a minute, no problem; if for an hour, his arm would ache; if for a day, medical care would be needed. The longer it is held, the heavier it becomes.

“That’s the way it is with stress management,” the lecturer said. “If we carry our burden all the time, it becomes increasingly heavy … we won’t be able to carry it.” However, if we put it down for a while, rest then return to it refreshed, it is possible to carry on. Whether resting overnight or for short periods, when relaxed we handle burdens better. Then the lecturer gave this light-hearted advice:

“Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them. If you cannot be kind, at least have the decency to be vague. Accept that some days you are the pigeon and some days the statue. If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was well worth it. The second mouse gets the cheese. When everything is going your way, the odds are you are in the wrong lane. Nobody cares if you don’t dance well: remember Zorba the Greek.”

More seriously, the best stress-reliever is thoughtful prayer, whether words or meditation, starting with when awakening in the morning. Recently, another friend shared the following written by St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross:

“The duties and cares of the day crowd about us when we awake … if they have not already dispelled our night’s rest. How can everything be accommodated in one day? When will I do this, when that? How will it all be accomplished? Thus agitated, we are tempted to run and rush. So we must take the reins in hand … When there’s nothing urgent at hand, [stress] ceases much sooner. Heaven is expert at economy; therefore … the first hour of your morning belongs to God … Tackle the day’s work that he charges you with, and he will give you the power to accomplish it … whatever comes your way after [bedtime] is evidently no longer essential … .”

The bottom line advice is: Learn to let go and let God … .”

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)


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