Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Week 1: The Stress We Confess

This week's discussion is focused on recognizing the degree of stress we all face as women in general, and Christian woman specifically.
As wives, moms, grandmothers, sisters, friends, working women, or single women we carry the weight of the lives we lead. To add to that we bear the spiritual burden of being everything we need to be as a Christian, and working for God's Kingdom.

God knows us, though. And that is why He never intended for us to bear this load alone. The Spirit was sent from the beginning to be a helper for us!
Christ told His disciples before He left them the final time that, “These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” John 14:25-26 - NTSB
Equipped with the gifts of the Holy Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, kindness, faithfulness and self-control), we are able through the Spirit to accomplish all the tasks that we are called to ...I find peace in that truth.
We are also told in 2 Peter 1:3 .."that His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by his own glory and goodness."
If you are anything like me, then you don't know where your "everything" has gone! We think often, "there is only so much of me to go around!" and "how am I gonna get all this done?" If I have everything I need, and the Spirit is there to help me along ..then why am I so overwhelmed and feel so depleted with nothing else to give?

For me, I realized rather profoundly that it has so much to do with stress, and how it affects my body, mind and spirit.
Does stress directly prevent the movement of the Spirit in my life? Not necessarily.
However, because stress affects us through its energy-draining qualities, mind muddling characteristics and heart wearying symptoms, it may keep us from fully experiencing the gifts promised through the Holy Spirit residing in us.
When we are overwhelmed, overworked, overextended, overtired and frustrated with all the stresses that come with our abundant lives we aren't in the state of body, mind or spirit to experience those gifts.
Decreasing our stress levels goes beyond it just being "good for us" - we are called to a higher purpose, and so we must get rid of everything that is hindering us from being everything we need to be in Christ.

Are you ready to get rid of some of this stress? Me too.

Personal Pondering Point: What stresses do you feel the most when it comes to the life you lead? Which ones seem the most prominent and to be the most weight-bearing?
Verse of the Week: 2 Peter 1:3 -"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness."
Some thoughts to get our discussion going ...
  • Of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that we are promised, which ones do you find the most comforting? Why?
  • Which of your many roles do you find the most stressful? Why?
  • Has anything regarding stress or the Holy Spirit really struck you hard this week?


  1. Courtney, I just wanted to say I really enjoyed class tonight and I am looking forward to the next couple of weeks! I always enjoy when you lead class. You are a wonderful teacher! I will post more later in reference to your questions when I have more time.

  2. I love all the fruit of the Spirit, but I think right now, my favorites are love, peace, patience, and self-control. That's because the stress I fight the most these days is the "small," daily stress of situations like trying to prepare dinner when one child is clinging to my leg crying and another is banging on a pot. Or trying to do my daughter's hair while Luke is climbing all over me to get to the sink and Greg is trying to get feedback from me for a lesson he is going to teach. I guess I get stressed by multitasking combined with loud noise:). So in those times, I really need the Spirit to give me the love, patience, and self-control to be sweet and kind even when I think I might explode:)! Thanks to all my talks with you, I've gotten to the point where I feel that overarching peace about my life. It is just hard sometimes to maintain peace (and love, patience, etc.) in the moment!

  3. Hmm... i deffinately find the promise of Peace most comforting. It is what I need and desire most in my life right now. The highest stress of my life, I am realizing, is not meeting my own expectations of myself. Feeling like a failure when I dont reach a goal for myself. Wish I could be there for your class Court. I really need it right now. But I will keep up this way!

  4. Thanks Ash, Kim and Lace! I am so amazed by all the gifts of the Holy Spirit each is such a compliment to the other. I think its amazing how when you are at peace with yourself its easier to be more patient and kind to others. When you have self-control its easier to be gentle. When all those things are covering your life, mind and spirit faithfulness is a natural promise to follow. And, of course love and joy are boosters to all of those things ..making it all worth the effort.

    The small daily stresses are the ones that are the most damaging I think ..because they can escape our radar easier. We can let them by and not realize when they are mounting. I know that I chide myself (those expectations you were talking about Lace) that I have "nothing to stress over" when I feel that way. Instead of just recognizing what is causing it, and being able to decrease it effectively.

    Here is praying for all of us to be able to find those little stresses, let the Spirit handle them and feel a sense of peace even when the things of this abundant life get to us!

  5. I would have to say right now I think the role I find most stressful is the role of being a mother. Kim hit the nail on the head for me by what she said in class. The challenges of raising children change everyday and they are so unpredictable. I do great with a black and white set of instructions but when it is unpredictable I tend to struggle.

    As far as the Holy Spirit goes I have learned alot more about it within the past year and a half. I am so much more aware of the gift God has given us with the Holy Spirit and in turn have been able to use it better. I have struggled and still do sometimes with understanding how God through the Holy Spirit changes us into better people but through being in the Word everyday and prayer with God you start changing without even realizing it. When I am not in the Word and not in prayer with God I try SO HARD to do the right things and make the right decisions but I constantly fail. It's only when I am reading the alive and active Word of God that I am successful in changing my sinful behaviors. God does not expect us to change on our own. We CANNOT change on our own as much as we try.

    I read an example recently of how God works to change us and clean us. It said when your child comes in from playing outside-covered from head to toe with mud- would we hand him a scrub brush and say, "Go to work on your clothes and clean off every last spot"? Of course not. We'd help clean him up and provide a fresh change of clothes. That is what Jesus did for us by living a sinless life, paying the price for us through His death on the cross, and being raised from the dead. The Bible says God has dressed us with the clothing of salvation and draped us in a robe of righteousness!(Isaiah 61:10)

    I want to be dressed by God! I think getting rid of the stress that hinders God from working in our lives is so important. We can't be the Christians we need to be without the work of the Holy Spirit changing us. I am looking forward to this study so much and I am praying God opens my eyes to what I need to change so that I can grow closer to Him and be more like Him.

  6. I have been meaning to leave a comment since Wednesday night. I went to the class with a very doubting attitude. I mean I am a confessed Stress Queen. I have been through so many in-services and traiings through the years about reducing stress. I have read enough books on the subject that I can not even begin to tell you. Anyway, I went in and thought I would try it. Then I sat there and thought how in the world can someone her age even begin to understand what years of stress is like? However, it was not long until I felt the difference. I listened and found myself drawn to your blog (something I never do) after class. I read everything old, new, current. I ended up only getting about 1.5 hours of sleep, but I felt a hopefulness that I have not felt in a long time. I really thought I could reduce my stress this time. Of course, this meant that Thursday was really a challenge at work. I want to say thank you for your journey to reduce your stress. I also want to say thank you for sharing your journey and discoveries with us. I really feel this class is meant for me.

  7. I feel so blessed to be in the constant presence of so many great and godly women :) I love you guys!

    I am constantly amazed with how the Spirit works in us and through us. Ash, so many great little lesssons in that one post! :) I especially like the illustration with the kids messy clothes. What a great picture!

    Daphe ..your words are so encouraging! Thank you so much for taking the time to share them. I know that you are not unlike most of us here ...a daily struggle to get ourselves to a point of peaceful rest in God, trying to beat down the things that get us so harried! I am so glad we are all here to encourage each other to a place where we are more able to receive God's blessings of abundance in our lives.

    Focusing on decreasing the stress in my life has helped so much being able to focus on godly thoughts, seeing the blessings in my life, and allowing the movement of the Spirit because I am able to let my mind, body and spirit rest in Him better.

    I am praying peace on all of you tonight my sweet sisters!

  8. I took the time to print out the Stress Strategies. They are going to work with me. I may even post them up in the house in several places. Nicole posts Bible verses on her bathroom mirror. I do not spend much time in front of a mirror because I am certainly not 14 any more, but the stress strategies are going up around me for a while for me to have visual cues as reminders.
    I must admit the stresses I am having the greatest challenge with now are physical and emotional. The stress of having chronic issues such as fibromyalgia, parathyroid disease, and a chronically low Vitamin D level lead to emotioanl stresses. I find myself fighting through daily pain trying to do things that were so simple not that long ago. It is frustrating. I realize I am still on the journey to find solutions that work for me most of the time with these issues, but it can really get to a person after a period of time. Also, work has been extremely stressful the past 2-3 months. Therefore, I am facing challenges from 2 very critical areas to most people--health and work.
    This is why I think this class is for me. I usually go to the singing class on Wednesdays. However, it is not meeting this summer. God always provides what we need if we are only patient enough to wait on Him. I appreciate your work and preparation for the classes, Courtney. I look forward to starting a step by step approach.

  9. Daphie ..I know that pain is a huge stressor! It can add a level of stress to even the most mundane and unstressful things, much less to things that are innately stressful, like work. I hope that the Stress Strategies work for you ..I cant wait til we get to that part in class because I have them to be so helpful as I attack this stress thing.

    I think that a big part of dealing with stress is taking it down to size. When we see it for the huge thing that it is, its hard to miss how it is actually made up of a bunch of smaller stresses combined.

    Applying the SS to the little things have done wonders for my stress levels ..making me more equipped to deal with the bigger things.

    This coming Wednesday nite, and this coming weeks' posts are going to be related to that. I hope that you will feel empowered to take it one bite at a time, giving you more energy to deal with big things you struggle with everyday...and the things you dont have control over (like your pain level).

    Meanwhile, peace, peace my friend!


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