“I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” I sat on the couch with my head in my hands. My husband Robby was trying to comfort me but didn’t have the answers.
I had been “down” for over a week. I couldn’t muster the energy to cook, clean, or write. I put in my time at work, but that was about it. I knew I wasn’t depressed or sick, but I couldn’t get over this malaise.
Later that week, I opened my morning devotional. I hadn’t read it in a few days and had to check the calendar to see what day it was.
“Well, no wonder!”
Robby looked at me inquisitively over a forkful of scrambled eggs.
“Look what week it is.” I pointed to the beautiful portrait of my late grandmother on box 16 of the calendar on the fridge. Box 10 marked the anniversary of her passing. It was currently day 15—smack dab in the middle of the worst week of the year.
After 13 years of missing Grandma, you’d think it wouldn’t sneak up on me anymore. But it does. Every single year.
As a modern Christian woman, I know that God is good, and He’s in control.
But this time of year always leaves me feeling lost and confused. This year, I subconsciously avoided it by focusing on other issues and vegging on movie marathons.
That just added guilt to the emotional pile, though: Was it really OK to avoid the painful memories this year? Why hadn’t I dealt with it in prayer?
Thankfully, God showed me something that released me from the usual dose of self-condemnation.
We’re all aware the body is equipped to handle amazing amounts of stress. In the “fight-or-flight response,” we get a surge of hormones, including adrenaline, that give us the energy, focus, and strength we need to run away from something or stand our ground.
Once the emergency is over, though, it may take a while for our minds to come to grips with what happened. Trauma victims may even suffer amnesia or remember facts differently than they occurred. These mental blocks and tricks aren’t evil—they’re just pause buttons to give us the time we need to process the situation.
The Bible says we are fearfully and wonderfully made (see Psalm 139:14). God knew we would deal with stressful situations that could destroy us physically or mentally, and He gave us the tools we need to get through them.
We would never tell a trauma victim to “just deal with it.” We wouldn’t dream of making them feel guilty for going through the necessary healing process. So, why do we allow ourselves to feel guilt and shame when we’re dealing with something difficult in our own lives?
I think the problem for Christians is that we confuse stress with doubt or worry. Doubt is a lack of belief, and worry is the result of doubting God. Stress, on the other hand, is a physiological response to a stimulus—whether negative (like a car accident) or positive (like planning a wedding)—that disturbs or interferes with our normal equilibrium (Dictionary.com).
When we’re stressed, it just means we’re going through something. It doesn’t mean we trust God any less, so there’s no reason to feel guilty about it.
We all know we can handle stress better by stepping away from the situation or focusing on something else for a while. Sometimes, though, we may feel buried under it, like I did earlier this month.
If you find yourself in this situation, I encourage you to do what I finally did: drop the guilt and give yourself a break! Even if you’re not exactly sure what’s stressing you, trust that God has it under control. If you think you need a little help, reach out to a loved one or your pastor.
And remember, joy comes in the morning (see Psalms 30:5).
Read more from Ashley @BigSisterKnows.com
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