74% of adults suffer from stress at different times and many of us are overwhelmed by it. What can we do?
Life is so complicated today; there is so much to do it gets confusing and sometimes we have feelings of not being able to cope. There are so many uncertainties, competing demands on our time and pressures that we struggle with it all.
These pressure can come from many directions – work, children, spouse, parents, family, expectations of people, money issues, so many practical tasks, sorting things on line and on the phone that seem to take forever.
We have to keep so many balls in the air, it’s not surprising that we sometimes get exhausted trying to balance it all and it feels out of control. Sometimes it all comes crashing down and we simply can’t cope. We need help.
We feel pulled in every direction On top of this the world throws a lot of rubbish at us and makes us feel bad.
Past mistakes we might have made but more often hurtful things said to us or things done to us. Or unfairness of different kinds that still hurt and push us down. Expectations of others we can never meet; so much stuff that just pushes us down.
We need other people to talk to and to share with. We need to feel the love of others. But at the same time we feel isolated with all our feelings and the concerns people express for us somehow don’t get through to what we need within.
The first thing to understand is that we are not alone in this.
The Mental Health Foundation published a report in 2018 titled “Stressed nation: 74% of UK 'overwhelmed or unable to cope' at some point in the past year” and that was before Covid-19 with its health, job and financial worries. It is not just adults: 29% of 18-24 year-olds had self-harmed in the past year due to stress.
Click here for more https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/news/stressed-nation-74-uk-overwhelmed-or-unable-cope-some-point-past-year
Most people feel stressed and are on the edge of coping, but many of us don’t cope. Certainly we can talk to a doctor about our stress and anxiety and occasionally we need some kind of medication to calm our thoughts and help us to cope. This is a serious issue. But medication alone can’t fix it and we need to understand ourselves better. We may need practical help or help in our relationships; we may need counseling to better understand ourselves, deal with things from the past or develop coping mechanisms. All these things are helpful and important and we should use them.
We tend to focus on the outside things we are not coping with but the true solution starts within. How we see and value ourselves is crucial. We sometimes dislike ourselves, see our faults and focus on them. But God has a different view.
There is something more fundamental that we need to understand. We are made to love and be loved. Without love we hurt, feel empty, cry out. Children need love; they want our attention all the time. When they don’t get it, they often misbehave to get our attention. When they feel loved, they settle. A cuddle fixes many things. As adults we are not so different. We need love; we need to feel cared for; we need to feel valued. We can’t run on empty. We are like a leaky container; we need filling up every day with some love. When we are loved we can cope with most things but when we don’t feel loved everything is so much harder.
The constant busyness and pressures of life can put strain on the opportunities to give time to each other. Relationships become fractious, we say things we regret. We feel bad when we say them and worse when they are said to us. It’s a lonely but common place to find ourselves.
The problem is that we do not have sufficient capacity to give out all the love that is needed around us. And people around us don’t have the capacity to give us all the love that we need. Love is not just an emotion, it is the act of giving to others and meeting their needs. Click here to read the Bible definition which is often read at weddings. Giving in this way is naturally tiring and is tough when we ourselves are exhausted and in need. Where can we get more love?
We need to understand why we need so much love. God made us with a need for love. He did not make us cold, unemotional beings or self-reliant. He made us for relationships, to care and be cared for. Our highest experience is to be fully and completely in love with someone. To give and receive love is at the heart of who we are. It is also God’s nature.
Firstly we need to understand that He is Love. He is the ultimate source of love. His nature is entirely loving. Sometimes we can think of him as angry but he is only ever angry at the harm we can cause to one another. Just as you can be angry when someone unreasonably hurts someone you love, so he can be angry about stuff that hurts others. But that does not make him an angry God as some might portray him. He is entirely loving and longing for you and your good.
Secondly we need to understand that he made us to love and be loved. He made each of us completely unique. You fingerprints, DNA, eyes are absolutely unique. More than that, your character, your being, is unique. There is no other ‘you’. He made you and he loves you. Psalm 139 v13 says “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb”. You are very precious to him.
The problem is that we live in a broken world where God’s ways are discarded. We can struggle with the idea with we are precious, special and unique. We don’t get treated that way and we don’t feel that way. That reality gets damaged. People can hurt us and negative experiences make us question our value. We are cut off from God and God’s love seems far away and we are left alone. Some even dislike what they see of themselves; they want to ‘fit in’, not be unique. Yet we can only be truly happy when we can fully be ourselves.
God's intention was always that we should connect with him and enjoy and experience his love and the peace and security that it brings into our lives. When he is in place in our lives we gain a whole new resource to cope with problems. Life takes on a whole new perspective. Cut away from that, we feel empty. We search for love and look in different places, some helpful, many harmful. We can easily get hurt.
But God stands with open arms, longing for us to come to him and re-engage with him. Jesus told a story about the prodigal son who went off with half his father’s wealth and lived the high life. When it ended in grief he decided he was better off to go home and reasoned he could work as a slave on his father’s estate. But his father is pictured waiting and looking out for him, gazing toward the horizon in hope and running to him as soon as he sees him. The son says he is so sorry and asks to be a slave on the estate but the father welcomes him and restores him fully as his son and holds a big feast. It is a picture of God waiting for each of us to come back to him. Read it here in Luke 15:11-24. You will also find other things that Jesus said that may be helpful.
When we come to God and reconnect with him he starts to teach us about our value and helps us to start rebuilding our confidence. He helps us repair and restore relationships, teaches us about love and forgiveness. As we get to know him and learn from him He becomes to us a stream of ‘living water’, pouring love into us so we can pour it out to others. This is the greatest change that can come into our lives and will slowly change out situation, step by step.
You can find out more about this on the website. You can start in the Discovery Room where there are answers to some common questions and links to lots of information. If you want to find out more about Jesus click the 'More on Jesus' button. If you want to know more about how to start a relationship with him, click the 'Knowing God' button. You can also fill out the form below to ask questions. We hope you have found this page helpful. We also offer confidential prayer if you would like us to pray for you. Click here for more on prayer requests.
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