Monday, June 16, 2014

(Often Destructive) Ways of Coping with Stress



I am not much of a crier.  It just isn't a way I deal with stress.  Unless of course my circumstances or relationships with others become overwhelming, then I may cry and cry.
As I thought about how people deal with stress, fear, or anxiety in life, I realized there are many ways (destructive habits and poor choices actually) people use to cope.
They may cry, drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, watch hours of TV, eat a lot of unhealthy food or dessert, view pornography, engage in masturbation, listen to loud music, go on drives, take walks or go jogging, write, draw, shop, or engage in self-harm.
My tendency, more so in the past, was to run to self-injury.  At the first sign of sadness or feeling misunderstood, being angry or hurt, having trouble in relationships or not getting along with those around me, I would immediately turn to self-harm.  I have known others who cry a lot and this is how they deal with what is going on around them.
In my opinion, crying is not helpful because it brings symptoms of an ulcer, leaves us with a headache, and reinforces in our minds everything wrong about life by the continual dwelling on what is unpleasant instead of turning to the Lord, reading His word, and seeking godly counsel for wisdom and guidance in life.
I have told a dear friend of mine that I hate to see her cry because it is hurting her inside and is a poor and destructive way of dealing with stress in life.  I explained that her first impulse is to cry, just like my first impulse used to be wanting to engage in cutting.  I shared that crying was leaving scars on her mind and physical health, almost like self-mutilation was leaving scars on my body externally.
Dear ones, life is difficult.  It is rough and trying.  It can bring unexpected loss, unforeseen pain, and much sadness and confusion when we aren't getting our way or can't understand why God seems to be ignoring our requests.
I really believe God's intent for our suffering, trials in life, and even unexpected loss or hurt...(the sort of pain that makes us want to cry immediately or rush to self-injury, or view porn and masturbate, or go grocery shopping and get all the foods that aren't good for us, etc.) is to refine us, break us of any lack of trust in Him, and show us our need for Him in all aspects of life in a very deep and profound way.
Jesus Christ is truly faithful, unfailingly loving, and totally for us as His children...He is 100% trustworthy, wise in all His ways, and always has our best interest at heart.  What follows, therefore, is that all things in life; whether good, bad, unexpected and unforeseen, the sorrows, hurts, breakups, and losses we experience are all part of His sovereign plan and will for our lives.  Yes, of course, we make choices and may bring a lot of the heartbreak we experience on ourselves because we chose to do what pleased us rather than living a life in accordance with God's word, yet the Lord is able to even bring growth through our mistakes and use all aspects of our lives for His glory and honor, exaltation and praise, if we allow Him to.
Jesus Christ is worthy of our trust and praise.  Let's purpose in our hearts to trust Him, delight ourselves in Him, keep Him first in each aspect of our lives, and pray daily for His intervention to do in and through us and our lives what only He is capable of, for our ultimate good, growth, benefit, and restoration (as well as His glory and to point others to Him through the transformation God brings to us, so others may realize that God is a restoring God who can change any situation and save any person who will submit to Him and seek to do His will).  God is the One who can turn a tragedy into a time of immense healing and closeness among families or communities who otherwise would have been content to continue living lives disinterested and disengaged from one another.
God is the One who can heal us of our brokenness, remove our guilt, comfort us, and transform us.  He is the One who gives us a new heart, with new desires, and breaks the strongholds in our lives that may have kept us in bondage for several years.
He gives us a new start in life and makes us a new creature in Him (Second Corinthians 5: 17).  He has truly done so for me, and trust me, I can say from an honest heart how very different I am from the person I once was.  Truly different.  To the degree that most people wouldn't believe that was me.  And I am free!  Now, truly, God has made me a new creature in Him and given me a new heart, the desire for what pleases Him, and a disdain for all that keeps me from Him.  There is still much growth that needs to take place in my life, but in honesty, He has made me new.  And I am joyful.  And content.  And pleased as I look back on all He allowed, all He withheld, and the times He delayed in answering my prayers because He had my growth in mind and not just the willingness to grant my requests in prayer because I was persistent in asking.
A mentor of mine once said, "If there was somehow a way before people were born for them to have a face to face conversation with God and He told them, 'Look, when you live your life, I am going to allow you to go through some rough situations and trials & circumstances that will break you, but I have a goal in mind; a plan.  I will grow you through those experiences and use you to reach people you wouldn't have been able to otherwise.  Your hardships will also give you an intimacy with Me that wouldn't be possible if your suffering was just average or bearable.  Trust Me.'  Wouldn't this change your perspective and prepare you for hardship, knowing God's intent and His goodness in such...?"
Because knowing God or just knowing about Him are two very different realities.


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