Root Cause Analysis
If you were to take the time to map out all the reasons for stress in your life, do what’s called a root cause analysis, you’d likely discover one main reason for the stress in your life. Yes, stress really is that simple.
Fear. If we’re brutally honest with ourselves, we’ll realize that being overwhelmed by stressed is really acting in fear.
Fear of failure. Fear of letting others down. Fear of being let down. Fear of sickness and death. Fear of being controlled. Fear of not having enough money. Fear of kids rebelling or getting hurt or failing or embarrassing you. Fear of missing opportunities. Fear of making wrong choices. Fear of loneliness. Fear of mediocrity.
Unable to Wait
As I thought more about the fears causing my stress, I realized at the heart is my inability to control people and events. Nowhere is this reality more evident than in my inability to wait for God.
Bob Sorge in The Fire of Delayed Answers says there are three temptations that derail believers trying to wait for God to speak into their lives.
- The temptation to demand and immediate answer.
- The temptation to give up.
- The temptation to just “do something.”
When I think about the times I’ve given into these temptations, I realize they happen because I believe one of my fears is about to be realized. In my refusal to wait, I’m usually just trying to save myself from that fear. At the same time, I’m allowing my feelings to control my decisions as well as rationalizing and justifying why I can stop the waiting.
The odd thing is that when I give in to these temptations, when I let fear get the best of me, I end up increasing my stress and allowing fear to gain more of a foothold.
One of the best stress relievers and probably one of the least pursued is quietness. We sometimes make stellar attempts at quietness on vacations only to return to chaotic lives. While times away have their place and value, it’s really a habit of quietness that addresses fears and derails stress.
As Sorge notes, we have to remember three important points about quietness. Quietness does not mean silence, it’s not instant, and it’s easily lost. Quietness must become a habit in order for it to truly alleviate stress.
My own journey to a less stressful life reflects the truth of what Sorge says about quietness. In fact, as I learn to practice quietness, my fears — and my stress — lessen. Sure, life continues to generate stressful situations and seasons, but they are no longer flavored with fear.
Instead, I am experiencing “perfect love that casts out fear” (1 John 4:18) by seeking God through:
- Reading Scripture: Simply reading the Word of God and letting it live and breathe within me on a regular basis.
- Praying Often: A regular conversation with my creator transforms stress and overload into times of experiencing him more.
- Seeking Input: Godly influence of those who’ve been where you are and are where you want to be is invaluable.
- Pursuing Health: Being physically healthy makes a tremendous difference in not letting fears take control.
- Simplifying: The simpler the life, the more likely quietness becomes a transformational habit.
As quietness increases and fears subside, as stress no longer rules and reigns, my inner atmosphere increases in peaceful consistency and reliability. As this happens, I’m experiencing a transformation that only God could orchestrate.