Worry. Anxiety. Stress.
Three interchangeable words that highlight most of our days as men. Just balancing work/school, wife/girlfriend, kids, chores, bills, and spiritual commitments is enough for most of us to need a Shiatzu. That’s not to mention fears about the future, health concerns, the global economy, or the housing market. At any given moment, I think it would be safe to say most guys could make a fairly lengthy list of legitimate questions which cause us intense stress. Questions such as:
Where should I go to school? What career should I pursue? What if JJ Abrams and Disney further degrade the legacy of Star Wars with Episode VII? Who am I going to marry? Where am I going to live? Who is going to win the Stanley Cup? How am I going to pay my bills? How do I balance all of my responsibilities and remain sane? What is my next blog topic going to be? What type of weapon am I going to use to amputate the hands of boys who try to date my daughter in twelve years?
It’s enough to want to pull a Michael Keeton in Multiplicity and start trying to clone ourselves. But maybe, just maybe the stress itself is the result of asking the wrong questions. We tend worry about the day-to-day things, the peripherals, rather than the real deep concerns of our existences. In so doing we get distracted in misaligned priorities. Here are the questions we should be concerned about:
How will God announce his presence in my life today? What divine opportunities will Jesus bring to my path this week? Who is in need of my help, love, or attention at this moment? What can I pray for my friends and family regarding? What areas of my character do I need to allow God to change? How is He speaking to me at this moment?
Sit in these questions for a minute and try to find the answers. Forget all those other concerns. If you do, you will find something peculiar happens: your worries begin to lessen. Not only that, but your priorities will shift in simply reflecting on these things. This is because worry, stress, and anxiety, are always tied to having a short-sighted outlook.
Now, maybe you are in the middle of a crisis, and subsequently, you have an extra-large dose of stress. Maybe you are in a place of transition and you simply feel like you have no answers at all. Maybe you are so consumed with the cares of life that you cannot even find solitude to sit in the spiritual questions above. If so, here are a few specific things from my life that have proven to redirect my thoughts toward a more peaceful, well-balanced place.
1. Press the reset button. Take some space to do something physical that brings you joy, and gets you out of your head. Go play golf. Go to the gym. Surf. Run. This doesn’t fix everything, but it does help you re-attack life with a more balanced view on things.
2. Spend some time with someone close to you talking about things that matter, like good memories you have shared. Take a walk down memory lane with a high school buddy and talk about old crushes, or the sports you played together. Recall family trips with a brother or sister.
3. Be creative. Write a song about how the corporate financial system has enslaved the masses. Write a science fiction story about a dystopian world conspiracy that involves a deadly virus which is transmitted through the evil fast food industry. Compose a rock opera. Write a blog about how the breakdown of creativity in western society resulted in Kid Rock becoming famous.
4. Then, most importantly, take an inventory of purpose. This may seem completely ridiculous, but I promise it works. Think of your life like a business. Any business needs to take a regular inventory to make sure it is running correctly, efficiently, and profitably. Start by making a list of your gifts. Write down every single talent you think you possess. Even small ones. Even stupid ones. Even funny ones. Next, make a list of your passions. These are the things you love and enjoy. Then, make a list of things you want to accomplish in the future. As you look at your lists next to one another, you will start to see something interesting: there are things in each column that are linked. Draw a line through the columns, bisecting the items that are similar. Soon you will have dozens of sharpie lines through the columns, showing there is a pattern to your skills, heart’s desires, and goals. They really are all connected! God has placed each thing there with intention. Not only that, but your list is 100% unique. Like the fingerprints on your hands, no other human could have come up with the same list that you did.
With your list in front of you written in indelible ink, the concept will hit home like brass knuckles: God has created you to be 100% unique, an individual with his own purpose on this planet. And all you need to do is put one foot in front of the other to make it come to fruition. As long as you are faithful to your gifting and character in seeking Him, you will be on the right path for your life.
At the end of asking the questions above, resetting your brain, and taking an inventory, you should feel a whole lot different. Again, stress, in many ways, is a function of perspective. By resetting your perspective you can then see life once again through the eyes of truth. What is the truth? You are OK. God has you, no matter what. Surrender to Him. He made you. He cares. He will give you what you need when you need it.