Thursday, August 20, 2015

Spiritual Journey Thursday - Stress

     I look forward to Thursdays when I can publish thoughts on my spiritual journey and hear the thoughts of others on a weekly theme topic.  It has become a space for an encouraging and fortifying community to come together.  We welcome anyone who would like to join us!
This week's topic is STRESS.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  - James 1: 2-4

School started this week.  For all you teachers, students, and parents out there, you know why the topic of stress might have been on my mind.  Summer already seems like a distant memory!  I love my job, but it comes with its share of stressors. However, a couple things came my way this week that reminded me that our attitudes about stress and difficult situations can be controlled.  We can choose whether to look at times of stress negatively or positively.  On the first day of school on Monday, our in-service day, I had "Good Morning America" on in the background as I was making breakfast and sleepily pouring my first cup of coffee.  Lo and behold, GMA was doing a week-long series on stress.  How apropos!  We've all heard and seen lots of things on how to handle stress, but this one caught my attention. 

ABC Latest News | Latest News Videos

“You don’t necessarily have to embrace the situation that’s stressful, but you can embrace your capacity to rise to the challenge,” McGonigal told ABC News of the mindset shift.

“Stress is basically a signal that something you care about is at stake,” McGonigal said.

Robin Roberts is an excellent example of how to handle stress with grace, faith, and a positive attitude!  "If you change the way you think, you can change the way you feel." - Robin Roberts

Then, at my in-service, our principal introduced our theme and motto this year.  This is my third year working for her at Kings, and I've loved our past ones.  "If not you, then who?" inspired by Connor Grennan's Little Princes was our motto two years ago, and "Live above the line" which championed taking responsibility, ownership, and accountability instead of relying on blame, excuses, and denial, was last year's.  This year, she chose "Choose Optimism" as a result of a staff book study we did last year over Jack Berckemeyer's book Deliberate Optimism: Reclaiming the Joy in Education.  She showed us this TED Talk by Shawn Achor Monday afternoon in our staff meeting:

I enjoyed watching Achor so much (notice he mentioned taking a positive spin on stress), I searched for more videos of him and saw that he had been on "Super Soul Sunday" with Oprah.  I think I saw it when it aired!  I thought he seemed familiar.
Last but not least, you might have already seen the Kathie Lee Gifford tribute to Frank Gifford, who passed away last week.  In case you haven't, this is a must-see.  Talk about handling stress with amazing grace!  One of my colleagues, Karen, shared this video with us, and today we talked about how awesome it was for NBC to give her that much time to share her tribute, and what was ultimately, a testimony of her and Frank's Christian faith.

In summary, one of my favorite things about what I've heard this week is that if we're experiencing stress, it's because we care about something.  We care about our jobs, our children, our spouses, our students, our friends, our neighbors, our parents, etc.  That knowledge alone can start to shift our attitudes about stress.  Focus on the joy of caring about something enough to respond to it.  Then focus on empowering yourself with the responses to stress, turning those responses to positive action.  And lastly, focus on the One who has the power you can rely and lean on in times of stress. With Him, you can turn stress around and respond this way, "What is my stone?  What is the gift that only I can do in this world to make it a better place? And spend the rest of your life trying to throw it well." - Kathie Lee Gifford

I've always loved this song by Kutless - it's a good go-to song for when stress gets the better of you!


  1. I'm coming back to watch the videos. I must get ready for school, but I understnad that stress comes about because you care about something. Last week in the midst of my student's crisis, I was stressed only because I cared so deeply for her. When we want to do our jobs well, we get stressed. My daughter had her second trial this week. (She's a lawyer.) I watched her handle her stress with grace and being totally prepared. In the end, she enjoyed it because she knew she had done the best she could. If we didn't care so much, we could relieve a lot of stress. But who wants that? Certainly not God.

  2. Stress (basically distress) comes when we care about the matter at hand and we're worried about outcomes: Will I do the right thing? Will good triumph?
    We admire "grace under pressure." What is the source of that grace?
    I see it all related to ceding control to God--casting our cares on Him, praying for His guidance, and relying on His grace.

  3. Holly, this is a powerful post with amazing links to videos that inspire. My take aways from post: Turn stress into strengths. Have a mindset shift. Throw a stone of gratitude into the world. Change your perspective. Lean on the strong tower of God.