“Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.”
The girl looked at her reflection in the mirror; she was happy with what she saw. Her hair was shiny, her skin was smooth and her smile was bright. She was happy, that is, until she turned the mirror to the magnified side. There she saw only the ragged split ends of her hair, cavernous pores upon her face and crooked yellow teeth. In a split second her pleasure changed to depression. Seeing herself magnified close-up, this beautiful girl couldn’t imagine anyone considering her anything but grotesque.
Her story seems extreme. Yet, much of the stress we feel in life is caused by a similar distorted outlook. We completely lose sight of the big picture as we narrow our attention on the supposed defects in or around us.
• A distracted spouse becomes proof of their lack of love for us.
• A car cutting us off in traffic becomes disrespect warranting rage.
• An unexpected visit from a friend becomes an evaluation of our self-worth based on the cleanness level of our home.
• A co-worker not responding when we greet them in the hall becomes confirmation that no one likes us.
• A critique at work becomes corroboration that we will never accomplish anything of value.
The feeling of being stressed is not caused by events that happen to us, but is the result of our perception of those events. The way we view things has a tremendous impact on our ability to cope. We all experience stressful events in life, yet some are more resilient than others; much of that difference is found in the view we choose to take.
When we come under stress, a critical step is to take inventory of our thoughts to determine if we are looking at the situation with a balanced perspective or through intense magnification. One of the best antidotes to stress is trusting God’s purposes in the difficulties. When we do, we choose a wide-angled telescopic view instead of a microscopic one. With it we see the event in perspective as part of a plan. We don’t lose sight of the bigger picture, for we keep our focus on heaven instead of on ourselves.
The next time you’re feeling stressed, check and see. Did you grab your telescope or your microscope?
Message for the Journey:
One of the best antidotes to stress is seeing God’s purposes in the difficulties; and when we are unable to see the purpose to trust that one is there.
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purposes for them.”