But you aren’t walking – you are riding a mule. You gently sway from side to side as the mule plods along the path. His steps are deliberate and with every advance, you know he has done this many times before and doesn’t question his own ability for success.
The path begins to get narrower and narrower.
You feel like you are being squeezed on this mountain path, except that only one side has the protection of the mountain. You can even reach out and touch it, it is so close.
But the other side is straight down! You gently lean a bit toward the mountainside on your left, somehow imagining that its solid presence so close can ensure your safety from the abyss on your right.
Just as you are comfortable with your reflective thoughts, you are jolted back to reality.
Your blood turns ice cold as you see in front of you that the path is totally washed out. The mule is going to have to jump about a meter gap to continue on the path!
Pause right here.
Can you feel the stress?
Physically, your heart is pounding and you break out in a sweat.
Your eyes widen (or maybe you close them!) and you grip the saddle tighter.
You hold your breath . . .
This is what extreme stress feels like. It can be crushing you, day after day, and you feel you have no recourse to change it – just like I had no way to change the direction or movement of that mule as we got closer to the washed out path we would have to jump!
I’ve written a book with this story and more about how we can learn How to Manage Stress: God’s Prescription for Turning Stress into Rest. God has a plan to help us through our long term stress, if we will listen and obey.
The stress I felt on the mule that day high up in the mountains of Ethiopia was a short-term stress – one that is handled best by a quick cry heavenward!
But long term stress is a bit trickier and more difficult to remedy, especially when it is something like an unfair boss, a rebellious child, abuse of any kind, impending deadline, unpaid bills piling up – or whatever is uppermost in your mind right now as you read this.
Many times you respond to stress in unhealthy ways and I have listed eight of them in the book.
When you respond to stress in unhealthy ways, you are only “surviving” your days. Every day is just another one to make it through – however you can.
But handling stress in a healthy way, God’s way, puts you in “thriving” mode. And that’s where you want to be.
Leave a comment to share how you deal with stress and if you think it is a healthy way or an unhealthy way.
Next Action: Get your own copy of my eBook How to Handle Stress: God’s Prescription for Turning Stress into Rest and get on the narrow path to thriving amidst your stress, and dare I say, even resting!