Sometimes the pressure of life can be overwhelming. Recently I found myself just trying to fix a problem so that I can FINALLY feel a little bit of peace and just get out from under this pressure that I’ve been feeling in every area of my life. I’ve also been struggling with the temptation to build walls, and live my life in a bubble just so that I wouldn’t feel this pressure on a daily basis.
In life there is always something. It might feel like we overcome on obstacle only to be faced with another one shortly thereafter.
The pressure we often feel is usually caused by multiple obstacles, expectations, and events that are beyond our control and this creates a pressure in our life that can quickly become overwhelming.
Recently our family went through something no one should ever have to experience, and something so rare that there is no support group or community that can really even help you get through it. It was traumatic to say the least, and every day we have to overcome the sadness and the trauma surrounding this one event. It’s not a mountain that we will climb and it will be over. Every day I am sad for what was lost in that moment: the life that we lost, the innocence, & the security. Life will never be the same again.
But even in that moment, and even under the pressure of the loss that we face every day, the anxiety that was in my heart before that incident is actually gone. There is a peace that passes all understanding, and just experiencing this made me wonder how are we truly thriving under this pressure, this loss, our grief.
The thing about the refiner’s fire is that it burns away all the impurities of life. The older I get the more I realize that one day this life is going to end. The things I feared, like death, is just apart of life. It doesn’t make any sense to live a life fearing death. So, in the refiners’ fire of grief, pain, loss, and vulnerability, I have learned that the pressure in our life can actually give us the peace and confidence we need to be all that Christ created us to be.
With every loss the fear of losing goes away.
With every victory the temptation to make our dreams an idol goes away.
With every effort to make things happen only to have them fail erases our desire to make this life about what we can do instead of what God can do through us.
When money is tight and the bills are mounting, we learn to trust God for our provision and the sin of greed is cleansed from our heart.
It reminds us what life is really all about, and that this life is truly only temporary.
Instead of looking to our idols to bring us pleasure, we look to God to give us purpose.
The things that bring us that high, and those things that bring us low, don’t have that kind of control over us anymore.
This is what the pressures of life do to us. Living in a bubble and building those walls just create more anxiety, more fears, it just feeds the very things we are trying to get away from.
Through this process I have learned three practical things I can do to thrive under the pressures of life & death, and they are:
1. Do something.
When there just seems to be a pressure in life we need to find a way to organize our thoughts, emotions, and find a way to take action towards the mountains we are facing.
For me, this is one of the first steps I take when life is feeling overwhelming and it helps me to not feel like a victim. We’ve already talked about how we can’t protect ourselves from the pressures of life, but we also need to realize that we can’t ignore them, either.
Creating a bubble in which we live is also creating a reality that does not exist. When I feel like I am creating a bubble, or building walls to protect me, I actually get my journal out and start making a list of what is going on my life, and in my heart, that is creating all this pressure that seems to overwhelm me on a daily basis.
Jesus did not come to build a bubble around us, He came to actually pop the bubble and the security we found in religion, and even in our leaders. I believe in heaven, but I’m not sure what that life is really going to look like. But I feel like whatever we are going through in this life is truly preparing us for our eternal future. I believe God is building warriors, and this life is our training ground.
When we face the pressures of life instead of ignoring them, we get to experience peace in ways that we never would have if we didn’t face these issues head on. Doing something like creating a list of the things you need, or how you feel, or what your next steps are going to be for TODAY, then we are facing our anxiety and fears instead of leaving them stored up in a closet somewhere.
It will take courage and faith to “do something”, but that’s all that the Lord has asked us to do in this life. Jesus didn’t say solve all your problems and then follow me. No, He said to trust in Him and believe in Him. Religion is complicated. Life is complicated. Following Jesus isn’t complicated.
When we are looking for all the answers and trying to solve all our problems, that’s when life becomes complicated. But when we are doing practical things, like making a list and trusting God to fill those needs, or at the very least give us peace among all the pressures of life, that is when we will find peace.
Doing something doesn’t mean solving the problem, it is actively working with God to find a way around that mountain, or problem.
2. Know what you believe.
Often when we are living out of fear we do things we wouldn’t normally do. For instance if I am afraid to lose your friendship then I might make our friendship more of a priority than spending time with God. Or if I am afraid of offending a reader then I might be more reserved in what I have to say which might in turn cause me to not say something that might cause someone to come to KNOW Christ.
Sometimes we can create plans, or instead of doing something we do ANYTHING to help relieve this pressure in our life. Fear creates unnecessary pressures in our life. Including fears of offending people, or even the fear of being yourself.
Doing something is intentional, doing anything is more sporadic and unpredictable.
I think one of the things we need to move away from when it comes to letting go of sin in our life is to not go back to the things that make us feel good when we are under the pressure of life. This is a difficult thing to do because even though life is difficult in the moment, we will still need to find our discipline to keep doing something that will help the situation, and not make the situation worse.
Sin always makes the situation worse, there is no getting around that. We might feel better in the moment, but not in the long run.
We need to do something, not just anything.We need to know what we believe, about God, those around us, and about ourselves.
Maybe sin might make you feel like you have some control, but if we are honest with ourselves sin only happens because we have lost control of ourselves.
We may not be able to control the events of life, but we can control our thoughts and actions as we walk out our life. I think we underestimate the power of our choices. But we need to remember that sin entered into this world with just one choice.
Making the right choice isn’t always easy, but this is where Jesus comes in. When we believe in Him and we trust in Him, that’s when we will have the courage to make the right choice, the better choice, the different choice.
We can make a difference in our little world only if we are living life differently. To do this we need to know what we believe, and we need to live our life around that belief.
Sometimes I accomplish this by simply writing “I believe” statements in my journal. It’s another way that I can do something when the pressures of life and death are weighing me down. These statements simply are reminders about WHO I believe in, and WHY.
In John 11:25-26 Jesus says:
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
Sometimes we need to ask ourselves “Do you believe this?”
God has made a lot of promises, we need to ask ourselves if we believe these things. Sometimes I forget what God has promised, and I also forget what I believe!
When the pressures of life & death has set itself right on our shoulders then knowing what we believe to be true will help to bring in the peace that passes all understanding.
3. Wants vs. Needs.
I think some of the pressures in my life based off the things that I want. I keep hearing people say that we need to join God in HIS work instead of asking Him to join us in the plans that we set out before us. I know I am guilty of this, setting plans in motion even if I know it’s probably not a good idea, or I’ve counted the costs and there is no way I have the time to invest in it at this time in my life but I move forward with it anyways.
Often I am full of new ideas but an idea is just an idea.
In order to make our dreams a reality we need to understand that there will always be work behind that dream.
My husband just started a new business and I am being reminded daily what it takes to start a business, grow a business, and maintain a business. There is nothing easy about pursing & building a dream.
So often we can get lost in what we want and not be aware that everything requires time & an investment. We get lost in what we want, but we don’t focus on what we need to focus on, and our responsibilities take a back seat to the wants in our heart.
Sometimes the wants in our heart do not line up with the desires of God’s heart.
Our ways are not His ways, and our thoughts are not His thoughts.
This is why we need to ask God what He would want us to do.
The pressures of life and death are really good at weeding out the wants vs. the needs of life, and what we should be doing with our time. Now more than ever I am very intentional about where I spend my time.
Not only am I intentional about how I invest my time, but I am also more intentional about where I invest my money.
There is a certain pressure that comes with the culture that we live in. My two youngest are in 6th grade and I already feel the pressure to get them a cell phone, or to make sure they have expensive shoes, or an expensive coat, or that they have an electronic device that is all there own so they can text/facetime all throughout the week with their friends.
But my 6th graders do not, and will not ever, have a cell phone.
They will wear whatever coat I can get on SALE!
They will wear shoes that are cheap because they pretty much ruin their shoes in about a month because they are KIDS! It doesn’t matter how much the shoes cost, they will find a way to get a hole in it!
All of these choices that our family makes with not only our time, but also with our money, helps to relieve those added pressures. But it only lightens the load when we are aware of the things that we want and the things that we truly need.
If we are feeling pressure to do things, or to buy things because that’s what the culture says we should do, we need to have the heart and the confidence to graciously say, “No, thanks.”
Do we ever take a moment to thank God for our breath, for today. Some people never had a chance to wake up this morning. When we understand the value of a single breath, of our LIFE, that is when I think we will take a step back and realize that we CAN make a choice to relieve the pressures that we are facing every single day. The pressures of life & death are there to steal every ounce of peace that is in our hearts.
But peace helps us to navigate a life & a world that will always be complicated, and it will ALWAYS be in NEED of a savior. Thank you Jesus for being our Savior!