I believe in a world where we can get easily stressed over things that we can not control, it is very difficult to understand how to manage or even…. DEAL!
I don’t know about too many other people, but I learned how to deal with stress from my parents. How they dealt with stress is the same way I found myself dealing with it. I learned how to emotionally eat by my mother, and I learned how to avoid and neglect critical matters from my father. And together those are not good mixes when it comes to dealing with difficult circumstances.
Dealing with stress is hard especially when you are overwhelmed by life and you are running out of options. It is during those times you just want something to make you feel good in the moment and not worry about the consequences. See, I deal with it by eating lots of cheese pizza and finishing it off with some Macadamia nut cookies from Subway. Even though I know that is definitely not the best way to deal with stress, it sure feels good in the moment.
But that’s the thing, stressful situations cause us to sometimes get a little ahead of ourselves and reach for instant gratification without really thinking things through. Before I knew it I was packing on lots of pounds and gained about 10-20lbs of fat. Sure a large cheese pizza and a box of cookies feel great especially considering the type of day that I may have had, but in the end, it was my health that suffered from the choice that I made because I was stressed out. And not just my physical health, but also my emotional and spiritual health as well.
I remember a few years ago, I was working three jobs and trying to manage bills and I was overwhelmed with life. I didn’t have an outlet for anything and the only thing that I consumed on a daily basis was pizza and cookies. The food high that I got only lasted for a little while until I had to confront the same situations and the same feelings of being overwhelmed. Instant gratification doesn’t solve your issues with feeling overwhelmed, feeling burnt out, feeling isolated, or even feeling better about yourself. It is a feeling that comes and goes, and that unhealthy relationship with whatever your vice is to deal with stress is not going to keep you happy. It isn’t a sustainable plan to maintain feelings of joy and gladness. And not to mention, it is killing your faith.
It took a while before I realized that I was leaning more to my own understanding, my own ways of dealing with feeling overwhelmed so that I don’t feel that way anymore. I was leaning to old pathologies and mental frameworks that were built by my parents on how to deal with stress. I dealt with it the same way they did, avoid the situation, run to comfort foods, feel good for the moment, and then face the problem tomorrow. Your faith begins to wane when you search for instant gratification. It begins to interfere with how you rely on God for everything and instead you rely on your own methods to feel better about yourself and feel better during hard times.
See I knew God was a jealous God but I didn’t know to what extent. God told me that I found more comfort in a cookie than in Him when it came to dealing with stress, and man that messed up my whole life and hunger for the next bite of that cookie that was halfway to my mouth.
It is easy to not think that God actually cares about your day, or that He cares about how you feel or anything of that extent when you are not really trying to develop a relationship with Him. But when you are really working on a relationship with Him, He will come down and speak to you when there are other things that are taking your attention from Him. And He is very serious about it too.
God has this amazing love for us that I don’t think will ever be comprehensible. Needless to say, I threw the cookie out of my mouth and began to talk to the Lord, and found myself worshipping until I felt the presence of God that gave me more comfort than the best Subway cookie could have ever done.
And I must admit there were days when it wasn’t comforting food that was instant gratification for me, it was porn or fornication. From comfort foods to fornication, my way of dealing with stress was substituting Him for what would give me pleasure for the moment.
No matter what it was, when I was stressed and anxious, I wasn’t always running to God for Him to comfort me, I was running to whatever gave me what was going to feel good to my fleshly desires. So I learned a great deal during those times because my faith wasn’t in God during stressful moments, and times when I felt overwhelmed. My faith was in myself to feel better about the situation. My faith was in watching two people have sex, my faith was in the late-night call to come over to the hotel, my faith was in a cookie.
The first thing I had to do was get delivered from my unhealthy relationship with instant gratification. Even the small comforts that I took joy in when I was overwhelmed, I had to process it before the Lord and ask Him to forgive me for replacing His joy with the joy in fleshly desires. I had to balance out my life and learn to run to God during every moment that I felt overwhelmed and staying in His presence until He filled me with His spirit. And that is how I got free from the emotional entanglement to instant gratification.
I don’t have a magic list of how to deal with stress right now for this post. I just have one thing, and that is running to Him and staying in his presence until you are fully comforted by His love. When I reached for instant gratification when I was stressed, the consequences always came back to haunt me. It wasn’t until I really learned how to worship during my times of stress, that I developed a strong bond with my Heavenly Father and learned how to depend on Him for everything.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
I pray that the peace of God that will surpass all understanding will guard your heart and mind through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7). I pray that the stress that you are feeling today will end and you will feel comforted by the loving presence of our heavenly Father. When we are anxious it is his comfort that encourages us. I pray that you are encouraged today and you will not look for instant gratification to fulfill your needs but rather the Love of God. Amen!
BY: C.J. Greene