Now that I have a little breather from all the activities we’ve done so far (remember that “tent in a sandstorm” bit?), I have a chance to post something again.  There’s so much in my head, I’d pour them all out if I could.

But let me share this with you.

My older sister is funny.  Before I left for vacation, she sent me a birthday card with some money in it, and then called me on the phone.  Over the phone, she pretty much told me, “I’m sending you a little something before you go.  Now when you get there (vacation), make sure you get a massage!  Or else I’m not sending you anything for your birthday anymore!”

“You don’t need to threaten me…” I quipped.

You see, she believes that I’m always working hard and tired and stressed out…and that I need a massage to relieve me from my stress.  That’s not bad at all.  She’s just a great sister that way.  She and I just have different ideas (and definitions) of stress…and peace away from stress.  What she considers “stressed”, I see it as “tired”.

Stress…Simply Put

The way I see it, stress is an inability to deal with a difficult situation that I have to deal with.  It’s the collision between “I have to do this now” and “I just can’t do it.  Period.”

When I have many tasks, and they all take my time and energy…but I can do them, I’m not “stressed”.  I’m just tired.  I can feel good about what I’ve accomplished despite feeling tired.  I’m not worried.  I’m not anxious.  I’m okay.  I’m at peace.  Just tired.

When I have many tasks required of me, and I find myself unable to do them…but I’m pressured to get them done anyway…that’s when I’m stressed.  I’m worried.  I’m panicking.  I’m anxious.  I am not at peace.

The difference?  My ability to do the tasks required of me and the absence or presence of peace determines whether I’m stressed or simply tired.

Peace…Simply Put

Peace in life doesn’t mean there are no commotions, no problems, no trials, and that everything will always work out the way I’d like.  Rather, Peace is what you feel when you, with God, have the ability to deal with the commotion that surrounds you.  It is not just “calming the storm”…it is “being calm, even in the middle of the storm”.

Take the example of the story of Jesus Christ when He was walking on stormy water towards Peter and the disciples in the storm-tossed boat.  Somehow, I envision the Savior as walking calmly despite the commotion that surrounded Him.  And when He invited Peter to come to Him, and Peter kept his gaze upon the Lord, Peter was able to do something uncommon and special…even if it was for a short while.  It is this scene of Peace…within a storm…that intrigues me.

When Peter lost focus from Christ, and focused on the stormy water around him instead, that’s when he became “swallowed up” by the water.  To me, that’d be a stressful situation.

And so it is with me.  I feel like as long as I can keep my focus on Christ and the things of Christ, it doesn’t matter how many things come my way…I’ll be able to handle them.  And because I can handle them, I’m not stressed.  I won’t need to be.  I’d be tired…but I’d be at peace as well.

In the end…

As a show of gratitude for my sister, I took up her offer and got that massage.  It felt good to get a few knotted muscles out of the way.  I can’t say I’ll be doing it again…nor will I say that I won’t have a lot of stuff to do later on or that stuff won’t get more hectic either.  But this, I know…that regardless of the load we have to carry, regardless of the storms we may face, as long as our focus is towards God, we can still be at peace…even in the midst of it all.