Several times each week, I would take one or all of my children on foot, crossing the busy five-lane A1A Highway to the ocean. Each time, I would instruct them. “Stop. Look both ways. Listen. And do not EVER run across a busy highway.”
Once we had gotten through the traffic; and we were safely on the other side, I would explain. “If you run, you may fall. If you fall, you will not be able get up; and a car will hit you. Before you begin to cross the highway, always be certain that there is enough room between the cars that you don’t have to run.”
These were the same instructions my mother and father had given to my sister, brother and me when we had to navigate across the bustling Dorchester Road in Charleston Heights, SC. My parents owned an ice cream parlor in a small strip mall; and we often had to walk to their work. Mother’s instructions echoed in our minds so accurately that when we were old enough to walk with my older sister and without our parents, we would tell each other how to cross before we stepped off the curb onto the buzzing street.
Now, many decades later, it was such good advice that I’m still giving myself the same instructions about many areas in my life. In more detail, here are steps you can take to eliminate many stressful situations.
- Stop! Take a break. Whether you are pressing too hard to complete a garden project, preparing to host a social event or trying to meet a pending deadline, taking a break will enhance your productivity and increase your ability to concentrate. Thereby, your stress level will be reduced.
- Look far beyond the immediate situation. Continually look at your life and at your goals. To cross a bustling highway, you must understand the patterns of traffic. This takes times of examination. To understand what God has planned for you. Daily evaluation and observations is essential.
- Listen! Observing the flow of traffic for a highway and in your life takes all your senses. Listen to the Lord, your critics and your friends.
- Don’t run. Only people who are insecure about their ability to cross a busy highway attempt to run across the street. Running dramatically elevates your chance of failure. You increase your stress level–not lower it–when you are in a hurry. Be sure that you have the time needed to complete tasks. Then and only then, proceed. Tripping and falling in the middle of a project spells disaster and increases the strain on your body and mind.
Years ago when I was learning to hear the voice of the Lord, a respected teacher and older friend told me, “Linda, God has an eternity to accomplish His good work in you. He doesn’t push us. If I feel extreme inner pressure, I stop. Then I seek God to truly hear from Him. God isn’t in a hurry.” That day my stress level decreased sustantially. Each time I remember her wisdom, I’m blessed by lower stress levels and God’s peace.