Friday, February 3, 2012

Let Not Your Life Be Troubled

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.”

John 14:1

In its annual Stress in America survey, the American Psychological Association found that “women historically have reported higher levels of stress than men and did so again in 2011” (USA Weekend magazine, January 12, 2012). Men are less likely to attempt to lessen their levels of stress than are women: 50 percent of males surveyed have tried to reduce stress over the past five years compared to 70 percent of females. Many people simply accept stress as part of the package of life with little understanding or intentional efforts at change. However, multiple studies have shown a connection and benefit between social and spiritual support with physical well-being.

Stress is a commonly used term that is difficult to define with both biological and psychological factors. We often view stress as a negative response to internal or external stimuli disturbing the body’s equilibrium. Too much of it – as in strain, tension, burdens, fear, and pressure – is not good for us.

I believe we have given too little attention to openly facing the stress in our lives as well as our community response to it. Tips to help cope with stress must be accompanied by people willing to embrace strong support for mental health services available to all people in our communities.

Exercise benefits mind and body. Prayer and meditation let the mind relax and gain focus. Taking breaks for rest, retreat, and reflection allow us to feel less overwhelmed. Finding supportive community and social outlets permit us to gain perspective and be gentler with ourselves. Obtaining help for the things we feel are beyond our ability to change is crucial. What are your tools and tips for dealing with stress? What prayers and friends can we employ in our journey toward well-being?

“The Serenity Prayer,” attributed to theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, is one prayerful reflection.

God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.


Be encouraged,

Bishop Julius C. Trimble

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