18 Inches Down

Moving Truth from the Head to the Heart

The Secret to Handling Stress

Let Me control your mind. The mind is the most restless, unruly part of mankind. Sarah Young. Jesus Calling. (I’m telling you, I love this devotional! Every day, there is something in it just for me!)

The mind does seem to be the most unruly part of mankind. My emotions can get all worked up and wreak havoc, but usually that is because I have set my focus on something and with my mind I am walking around and around it, seeing it from different angles and trying to make sense of it.

Or I am watching movies on the screen of my imagination. Things which have already happened — shot from my perspective, of course. Or things that might happen — some realistic, but most of them quite far-fetched. Worst case scenarios.

I can get myself worked up pretty quickly when I focus on any of these things. This world — even all the wonderful things in it — is out of control. I can fix nothing. I can change nothing.

So I might as well set my focus on something greater than myself. Something worthy of being watched: Jesus.

I can tell when I’ve lost Him as my focus. I lose my peace. I am burdened down, or discouraged, or depressed, or anxious and antsy. But the solution is simple: look away from all else to Jesus.

Now, doing this takes some practice. But just like any activity, when you do it awhile, you develop “muscle memory” in your soul and it becomes easier and easier.

  • I have a playlist of songs on my iPod which I collected and I play to help draw me into awareness of His presence.
  • I use my imagination to prove the already-valid truth that He is with me, and imagine Him sitting nearby, speaking to me. At my former homes, I had a “Jesus chair” in my Time Alone with God spot, where I would regularly focus my attention as if His body were sitting there.
  • I whisper/talk out loud and tell Him how much I realize He can be trusted with my concerns. Sometimes I explain the situation to Him (in case He doesn’t understand…LOL), but then I express to Him my confidence that He will take care of it for me in His own way. I give Him permission to do it His way, no matter what that may be.
  • I make a list of things He has blessed me with — or look at the list I already keep — so that I can remember His tender, loving care of me already. If He did it before, He’ll do it again.
  • I notice and brag about the characteristics He has which prove He is worthy of my trust: e.g. lovingkindness, faithfulness in spite of my shortcomings, shepherd-like care of me, my Abba/Daddy, King in control of the whole universe.

You have the choice. You can choose what to observe. You choose where you’re gonna focus. And when you get distracted from your focus on Him, you can also choose to re-focus again and again as necessary.

Photographers understand focus. You can choose to focus on this lizard...or you can focus on the flowers behind him. But YOU choose.

I want You as my focus. This other stuff: some of it is important, most of it is not. I set it down by You and I look away from it to You. You promised You would take care of everything for me if I would let You. I choose to claim that and trust You with it right now.

You always take care of me. I have never lacked for anything I truly needed. Never. And I won’t this time, either. You always care for Your own, and I am Yours.

I long to live a life of restful contentment. I want to face each situation with an inner peace, calmly looking from the situation or object to You for guidance, then acting out of what You direct. Always trusting. Always content in Your care. Because You always take good care of me. Thank You.

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Philippians 4:6-8, The Message paraphrase.

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One comment on “The Secret to Handling Stress

  1. delancydina
    04.27.12

    Keep it up! I like this! :)

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Hi, I’m Deanne!

Biblical counselor, budding author, and domestic engineer. I enjoy reading, studying, thinking, and writing about it all. I crave simplicity, laughter, and a cup of hot tea in the morning. Metaphor and allegory is my thing, and I enjoy using it to help myself and others understand spiritual concepts.

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