De-Stressing Counterintuitively

Over the past couple of months, I’ve had to wrestle with the realization that stress may cause me to lose running — one of my favorite ways to de-stress! The verdict isn’t totally in, and many people do run — even distance run — and suffer from the same condition I seem to have developed. However, each person has individual variances, so my verdict is a wait-and-see.

I can’t tell you how upset I am on the inside! I feel like a part of me that I have meticulously built over the past 5-10 years is being ripped out of me, and I’m actually afraid of who I’ll become (or even worse — return to being). I’m obviously making the stress factor rise, aren’t I?

So, I’ve been thinking back over the pattern of things that the Holy Spirit has been trying to say to me lately, and I noticed something — it’s all about a new level of faith and trust. I thought I might share some of the insights I’ve discovered:

  • A lot of my life has been a process of convincing myself that God can handle things better than I can. Ignoring the arrogance of the thoughts behind needing to be convinced, I have learned that I am selling my Father in Heaven and my Savior extremely short.
    • As I have continued to progress, I didn’t realize my thinking had changed, but that I was still selling God and Christ short: I was unconsciously thinking that they could, in their infinite wisdom, alter the plan to accomodate these surprises and use them to my eternal benefit.
    • Lately, I think my understanding has deepened. There simply are not thoughts. God knows what we do not and sees what we cannot. He already knows everything that was, is, and is to come. If it happens, it’s not “worked into the plan,” it is PART of the plan! So, if God has made me promises in the scriptures or through the Holy Spirit, those really are guarantees. The only thing that can break those promises is my choices and my use of agency.
  • There is a difference between being loved and having approval. I have been desperately trying to earn God’s love in a way that looks an awful lot like winning a race — if I can gain one of the top three spots, then maybe God will notice me more and maybe he will love me more!
    • Doing well can bring me more blessings, yes. But, doing well in the eternal sense is very different from the way we imagine succes in mortality. Eternal success is not about doing more, or having more. Eternal success is about BEING more: more patient, more kind, more loving, more thoughtful, etc.
    • God will not love me any more or any less based on anything I do, think, or say. His love is always there. There’s not winning or earning more.
    • So, it really is humble submission and obedience that brings about eternal success.
  • Punishment is for the rebellious. Everyone else is being walked down a path that will lead to lasting life and happiness.
    • God is not going to get me for making mistakes. (Nor are my mistakes too big for him to fix — they’re already part of the plan too!) God is not going to get me for trying to do good but making a mess instead because I was missing information or misguided. He really is more worried about my intent than about what really happened. Punishment is reserved for those who are willing go against God’s will, who know what they should be doing but are more set on doing what they want to do.
    • God’s definition of eternal happiness is much grander than making us do without on earth so that we can be delighted to play harps and have some sort of aimless eternal existence. While I don’t understand the eternities now, I know that we were created to have joy and peace here and now, and that the eternities potentially hold more for us than we can even begin to imagine now!

So, the end result is that I can have peace. While the physical issues that I am struggling against may be a result of things I have done and experienced in the past, that alone does not mean the issues are a punishment. They are simply part of a perfect plan that was designed to fundamentally change me and make me more than I could ever have been without these experiences and challenges. That is why the scriptures can call us to have peace that passes understanding: it really is “all part of the plan”!