By Ruth Ann Replogle, Columnist
Enid News and Eagle
I’m like most people. I have a desire to create New Year’s resolutions and carry them through, even though I secretly know they will peter out by Day 3.
My top resolution right now is learn how to appropriately cope with stress. There. I admitted it out loud.
Stress is defined as emotional pressure from things feeling out of control, getting out of balance. This can lead to being tired, a lack of energy, moodiness and being less motivated.
When I finally confessed to myself I was stressed out, I looked for practical ways to de-stress. One of the recommendations was write it down so I can organize my thoughts and perhaps see what is truly bothering me.
I did that.
Another recommendation was to eat healthier foods such as grains, fruit and milk to control stress levels and the resulting adverse effects.
Another recommendation was to take the edge off by doing something mindless (like binge watching a TV series, which I did), listen to happy music (cue strange looks from fellow drivers regarding my bobbing head) or force yourself to unplug from electronics and take a “me time” moment away from it all.
Obviously I’ve yet to take the last recommendation to heart since I’m sitting at a computer with my iPhone beside me surfing the Internet as I type this.
Then it came to me, I was approaching this from the wrong angle.
What about stress relief, God’s way?
Pastor Bayless Conley says this in one of his crosswalk.com devotionals:
“My therapist’s name is Jesus. And He wants to be your therapist too.
“How? Through prayer. In fact, He has made it clear in His Word that He wants you and me to pray so we can experience the peace that can only come from Him. To be released from the stress that so easily depresses us and destroys the joy of life.
“Take a look at Philippians 4:6-7. The promise of this verse is just awesome! ‘Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.’”
Conley reminds us that God designed prayer as a stress reliever, a way to unburden our hearts before Him, and in return receive His all-powerful peace.
Wendy Blight, with Proverbs 31 Ministries, wrote this devotional passage, reflecting on new year resolutions and quoting Romans 12:1-2 from The Message: “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life — your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life — and place it before God as an offering … Fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it … God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
“We can make all the resolutions we want, but we can’t change ourselves. But when we willingly offer our lives to God, He will change us. The NIV translation of Romans 12:2 says, ‘… be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ The renewing of our mind requires inward change and comes from God at work in us. It requires diligence on our part. It requires changing our thoughts, our priorities and goals to be aligned with those of Christ.
“It’s baby steps. And it doesn’t require changing everything all at once.
“Let’s begin today with our first step … a simple prayer, offering our hearts to God.”
I plan to begin 2014 with a fresh start, to clear out those stressors weighing me down and experience that peace that passes all understanding.
I’ll close with a quote circulating on my Facebook newsfeed from singer-songwriter Brad Paisley, in time for the new year that makes me excited to grab one of those new lined notebooks I have lying around: “Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365-page book. Write a good one.”
Contact Ruth Ann Replogle at www.facebook.com/JustHoldOnRR or email@example.com.