On paper, you would not have picked my husband and me for the job of raising ten children. Our organization and stress management skills were mid-range. Yet, with prayer and a lot of recalibrating, we made it through. All are adults now and we have a dozen grandchildren and have lived to tell the tale. And our marriage is actually better than ever, an example if there ever was one for staying the course through hell or high water.
Along the way, sometimes we were tired, angry, and overwhelmed, but never for so long that we did not get back on the path of faith, family, and fun. I haven’t reached expert level on anything in life, but here are a few tried and true thoughts to get you to the other side of stress.
1. Remember, this too, shall pass
You already know this, but we all need to remind ourselves occasionally. In the meantime, evaluate the darkness and stress. What is causing it? Do I feel stuck in a rut? Is it my spouse upsetting me or is it the kids? How can I get help?
For daily moments, (I’m not saying to ignore bigger problems) take a breath, talk to God, find a quiet space or moment (30 seconds might have to do) and lay it on the heart of Jesus and the Mary. Remember, our heavenly mother understands stressful situations. But she did not live forever in the manager of Bethlehem. That too did pass.
2. Look for the First Aid Station
First aid stations give you balm and band-aids. They are not hospitals, but patch you up and send you on your way. It could be sitting at the mall play area so the kids can run around while you just sit awhile or meeting a friend at the park or going for a walk. Have your spouse or perhaps a babysitter take over at home while you take a breather. My best breathers were always spent at Church before the Blessed Sacrament.
You really are not alone and this really is not forever.
3. Give up
My life is pretty calm these days, so it almost seems like all those stressful moments never happened. But they did and they were not easy at the time. One of my biggest mistakes was not taking a moment to let go and let God.
I have become a very big fan of surrendering everything to Our Lord and repeating prayer mantras such as this one from Servant of God, Fr. Dolindo Ruotolo: “Oh Jesus, I put all my trust in your, take care of everything.”
4. Offer Up the Leftovers
With the stress that remains that you need to step over to get through the day, offer it up. Offering it back to God in union with the suffering of Jesus Christ gives it value, much like a prayer. It’s important to be realistic and not let the days’ troubles create a state of agitation. This is how we grow. Ask God for grace to get through the tasks he’s laid upon you and give back to him as an offering any suffering that comes from it.
5. God meant this for us
Looking back, I see that life is full of lessons. Learning happens best through experiences and they are not always the ones of our choosing. Life’s challenges can help reveal areas in our lives we need to strengthen. It’s a form of spiritual warfare to fortify weaknesses that can drag us down and instead, to come back stronger.
Ultimately, it’s a hill and valley sort of thing were we keep climbing back up to the hills where our vantage point will be much better.
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