Time Well Spent

Last week I wrote about the sudden onset of stress and anxiety in my life.  It was causing the tell-tell signs in my body that I had let it get too far.  It was causing me to lose sleep, and I had a tingling in my face.  I shared how I needed to find ways to release that stress but that I ultimately needed to give it all to God and actually let go of it.  Well, I feel like I was surprisingly able to do that for once.  My sleep has improved, and the tingling has subsided.  I am definitely feeling calmer than I did this time a week ago. If anything, though, I should be really feeling the effects of stress right now because this week is insane for me. We have so much going on with tons of moving parts, and then mother nature has thrown in the threat of snow in the middle of all of it.  It’s like everything that was crazy about our lives before the pandemic and everything that we missed out on has all been thrown into this one week.  

This past weekend, my oldest, along with her high school gymnastics teammates, clinched the Regional Championship and secured their spot at the state competition on Friday of this week.  They are heading to defend their state title for the 4th year in a row.  It is super exciting. However, the competition is approximately 3.5 hours away, and the forecast of snow is threatening to derail their chances of being able to compete, not to mention the difficulties of traveling in the snow if we are allowed to go. The dilemma comes with whether or not she and I travel down on Thursday to get ahead of the snow if the school system doesn’t prevent us from going altogether.  If things go according to plan and the girls are allowed to compete on Friday, my oldest and I will at least be there overnight on Friday night since they won’t get done until late.  My husband and my youngest will be heading to another location on Friday afternoon for cheer where my oldest and I will meet them on Saturday morning sometime.  I will do my youngest’s hair and makeup and then go watch her compete while my husband and oldest wait in the hotel room (only one spectator is allowed per athlete due to COVID).  When that is over, my husband will then take my youngest and drive back home so she can be at practice on Sunday morning.  My oldest and I will stay at the hotel for her to compete on Sunday.  Also, in the middle of all this, we have to drop the dog off for boarding while we are all gone and then pick her back up at some point. If any one thing goes wrong, it will be a domino effect for the whole weekend. 

Crazy, right?  This is when I should be feeling the stress and anxiety, but surprisingly I am not.  I’m fairly calm about the whole thing.  I guess that is a good thing, but it is a little weird to me.  I keep waiting for it to come.  I know that is the wrong attitude to have but years of experience have me skeptical.  Have I really found inner peace and a way to keep my stress and anxiety levels down? I don’t know, but maybe. You may be asking what I am doing differently than all those times in the past.  Well, let me tell you my secret. I am spending time with God every morning.  I truly believe that is what is helping to keep me calm and the anxiety at bay.  I used to do my devotion and daily prayers at night.  I would often forget or would be too tired by the end of the day so I would go days or even weeks without really spending quality time with God. Sometimes I would even fall asleep in the middle of my prayers. I always thought that my mornings were too busy and that I needed to get all things done first before I could truly focus on God.  I was wrong, and I knew that I was wrong. Look…I’m not the perfect Christian, but I’m always willing to grow. Trust me, I have heard sermon after sermon about how you should start your day with God, but I never really put it into practice. Well, I take that back.  When I was teaching, I would pray on my drive into work in the morning sometimes, and I loved how it made me feel.  When I stopped teaching, though, that stopped.  Over the last couple of months, I have slowly been making a switch.  I still don’t do it first thing when I wake up like so many have said you should do.  I have had to find what works best for me.  Instead, I get up, get ready, and do a few household things if needed.  Then I head downstairs to my office to begin working.  Before I open my computer or do anything else, I read a short devotional.  I started with just doing that and then reading the little prayer provided for me and maybe adding in one or two sentences of my own.  Then last week when I felt the effects of my stress, I started closing my eyes and really praying from the heart. I even spent some time in silence just listening for God’s voice.  Some days my prayers are long and sometimes they are short, but I actually take a moment to spend time in the presence of God.  It almost always feel a sense of peace wash over me.  Sometimes I even get chill bumps, and I know that is God laying his hands on me.  It makes me feel rejuvenated and ready to face the day.  I feel more connected with God. When I do this consistently every single day, the stress and anxiety just fade away.  

If you are not beginning your day with God, stop making excuses like I did and do it.  Tune everything else out.  Close your eyes and speak from your heart.  Then sit in silence and let the Holy Spirit wash over you. Get to know God on a personal level.  Build a relationship with him.  I promise you, when you do this consistently, you will notice a difference in your mindset, your attitude, and the way you approach every day.  It will absolutely change your priorities, too. Seek him first above all else, and he will lead you through every step of your day. It will be time well spent!

Anchored in Christ,

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