As a child, whenever life would get hectic (as it often did with five children), mom's philosophical admonition was, "Life is great if you don't weaken." My sisters and I still trot it out, our own version of the Chinese fortune cookie, whenever one begins to feel frustrated over the complexities of staying on top of life - stressed out.

Stress not only shortens lives through the disease it causes, it lessens our ability to enjoy it while we live. It's no news that church people bring stress. So do family new babies, work, health, commuting, pets, and the world headlines to name a few. Instead of trying to avoid stress, we're better off learning how to handle stress, so it doesn't cause us emotional harm.

There are concrete steps you can begin taking to train yourself to deal healthfully with stress. Some of them are:

  • 1. Laugh More
    • "You have changed my sobbing into dancing. You have removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy."
      • Ps. 30:11

  • 2. Control Your Anger
    • "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and should not get angry easily. An angry person doesn't do what God approves."
      • James 1:18-20

  • 3. Stop Being a Perfectionist
    • "For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord. They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope."
      • Jeremiah 29:11

  • 4. Slow Down
    • "He leads me beside the still waters, He restoreth my soul."
      • Ps. 23:2

  • 5. Don't Procrastinate
    • "Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might..."
      • Ecc. 9:10

  • 6. Stop Feeling Unnecessary Guilt
    • "Don't be surprised by the fiery troubles that are coming in order to test you. Don't feel as though something strange is happening to you, but be happy as you share Christ's suffering."
      • 1 Peter 4:12

  • 7. Let Go of Grudges
    • "Blessed are those who show mercy. They will be treated mercifully."
      • Matt. 5:7

  • 8. Follow Your Dreams
    • "Entrust your plans to the Lord, and your plans will succeed."
      • Prov. 16:3

  • 9. Pick Your Battles Carefully
    • "A person with good sense is patient, and it is to his credit that he overlooks an offense."
      • Prov. 18:11

  • 10. Don't Equate Work With Worth
    • "Christ died for us while we were still sinners. This demonstrates God's love for us."
      • Rom. 5:8

[Adapted from "And He Will Give You Rest...," Lisa Copen, Vol. 1, Iss. 6, used with permission]

And while you're fussing and fretting over how hard life is sometimes, remember, "Many (wo)men owe the grandeur of their lives to their tremendous difficulties."
-Charles Spurgeon