Stress consumes me so easily, so quickly. I think I’m just a wildly emotional person, because a lot of emotions work that way with me. But none of those other feelings effect me as physically & emotionally as stress does.
Monday was a bear of a day, & I didn’t handle it incredibly well. A handful of factors gave me full clearance to land on the stress runway, & I crashed the plane right on top of it. Unfortunately, my attitude, leadership, patience, & perspective were on board, & they all were severely injured in the crash.
But, why? Did anything catastrophic happen? Nope. Was there some moral failure uncovered that destroyed relationships? Not at all. Here’s what I think happened. I think I came in looking for stress, & I found it. I went on a scavenger hunt for things to upset me or negatively raise my heartbeat, & I found a lot! But how did that happen?
Think about a tightrope.
One rope, wound & secured between a location point & a destination. Pole to pole, the rope is fastened with as much tension as it can stand, because no one successfully walks across a poorly attached, overly forgiving tight rope. And there are really just two ways to navigate the rope I think.
If you have a positive view, the word is balance. All you’re aiming to do is to maintain balance as you walk across immense & important tension. You need the tension to succeed, & with balance you easily make your way to the destination. Or you could take the negative view. Same rope. Same destination. But your perspective is negative. You climbed the pole consumed with falling off the rope. You’re questioning the tension, consumed by how the tension could let you down, completely out of balance because no one skillfully walks the rope when they’re riddled with fear, doubt, & pessimism. Simply put, the tension has become your excuse for stress.
I love a visual aid. Hope this one helps. Anyway…
Falling before you even climb up
What is particularly convicting for me is the reality that, many times, I’m stressed out before I’m even in the tension. Issues at work, thinking about my health, thinking about the future I’m giving my kids, relationships, ministry… I’m on the hunt for stress in some areas of my life, long before the tension can even find me. And you can call it whatever you like: pessimism, negativity, poor perspective, bad leadership, or whatever else you choose, but really it’s just failure waiting to happen.
I came to work on Monday, ready for a ‘Monday’. And you know what I got… exactly what I was looking for. I was looking for personnel problems, system failures, complaints, & stressors, & I found every last one. And my response has bothered me for the last 3 days.
So today I walked in with a different perspective. There are going to be problems, but I’m one of the leaders that can help us get beyond some issues, solve others, table a couple for later, & win the day. When a large issue blew up on me today, I took it. It was tense & I had an inner-thought moment that was ready to exonerate myself, blame-shift a bit, & lash out as a wrongly accused bystander…. but today I wanted to stand up in the tension. It doesn’t matter how I was a part of it. It was on my rope today, & it did not knock me off.
But there’s a rope every single day
Today the tight rope was at work. There was plenty of tension. Some of it was easily navigable, but a few moments crept in that easily could have knocked me off course. And had I got on the rope negatively, stress would have been my downfall.
And we can’t control all of the tensions in our lives. But we have control over our preparations & responses. And in those areas we must be determined to maintain balance. To ‘live peaceably’ (Romans 12:18 ESV) on top of the tension. Because there will be tension, & it is up to me whether or not that tension gets me where I’m going, or helps me fail to accomplish what got me on the tight rope in the first place.
Hope this was encouraging. As always, I love comments & new ideas, so send me some!