Stress Relief God’s Way
By Bethany Marinelli
It’s been a stressful week for me. Between integrating a new employee into our business, managing the major disruption of our landlord finally replacing our rotting roof, and a completely booked shop, with all the “normal” chaos that includes, I’ve been barely hanging on. Everyone goes through days, or even seasons, of stress in life and in work. Not everyone knows how to deal with it well. I’m not always great at it, but I’ve learned three basic things that have helped me make it more manageable over the years as I seek a God’s righteousness through a productive and purposeful life.
1. Take a Deep Breath
From 2006-2011 I worked with CRU’s high school ministry. I was still a fairly young Christian when I started and didn’t have a good concept of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in my life. I was perfectionist and I loved being in control. Stress really got me down. Once my trainers began teaching me more about the Holy Spirit, it drastically changed my life and, to this day, am learning the grace and freedom of allowing myself to make mistakes and allowing others, and God, to help me.
Dr. Bill Bright does a wonderful job breaking down how The Spirit Filled Life takes the pressure off of you and your strength, leading us to full surrender to Christ that has freed so many like myself. When we live a life led by the Spirit, our lives become less about me and the pressures I’m facing and more about God’s grace and help through those difficult times. The basis of this concept is what Dr. Bright coined as “Spiritual Breathing”:
- Breathing out by agreeing with God about the condition of your sin (i.e. bad attitudes, doing things in your own strength, etc…), thanking Him for His forgiveness, and changing your attitudes and actions.
- Breathing in by surrendering control to Jesus and receiving the fullness of the Holy Spirit by faith. Now you can enjoy being empowered by Christ’s direction!
Spiritually breathing on a regular basis (for me this might mean multiple times in a day if I’m really stressed!), allows us to act in the Holy Spirit rather than our own strength. For me, this means being able to clearly prioritize my day and getting things done more efficiently and feeling satisfied that I did everything I could do to honor God and those I’m serving.
27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
2. Take a Day Off
When I first got married, I was really excited about being a traditional American wife. I wanted to host guests for dinner or from out of town. I wanted to cook fabulous nutritious meals for my husband. I wanted a clean and tidy house. I also wanted to keep doing all the things I did with my friends and church. I wanted to do all this while also working a full-time job. I soon realized that, while these were all good desires, it wasn’t realistic to attain it all…at least not all at once.
My husband had a rule for himself before we got married that he took one day off from EVERYTHING. No chores, no favors to friends or family, no work. A day of rest means doing what you need to do to relax and refresh for the week ahead. This drove me crazy at first. There was always a sink full of dishes or a bathroom that needed cleaning or someone who wanted something from me. He helped me to understand what it truly means to rest.
2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.
There’s always something that needs to get done. If your boss isn’t requesting a project proposal to be on her desk by the end of the week or your team isn’t expecting a certain quota to be met or a customer isn’t expecting you to call them back with specific information, then you probably have a house to clean, a coffee date with a friend going through a difficult time, or a family event to attend. Prioritize your week so things that NEED to get done will get done. When your day of Sabbath comes, don’t let that which didn’t get done get in your way of resting. You can’t work effectively or efficiently if you are constantly mentally, physically, and spiritually exhausted.
9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
3. Listen For Christ’s Leading
If you are doing what Jesus had led you to do, then a little stress can be healthy; it can push you to excel and improve. If you are doing something you are not led to do, the more likely your stress becomes destructive in your life and relationship with God and others. Do you need to reduce other commitments so you can focus on what you are called to right now?
First and foremost we are called to Christ and his redemptive work. While you may or may not be called to vocational ministry, God did wire you in a certain way to do a certain type of work. That may shift and evolve over time (I went from being a Christian Youth Leader to working in an Auto Repair Shop), but you were created in such a way as to make a positive impact in the world around you. He’s not likely going to come down and audibly tell you what this is specifically, but whatever you do, you can represent Christ in it.
17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
As a new business owner I’ve come to a place where I’ve realized that some of my non-work activities need to take a back seat for a while. We don’t have people over as often. I spend less time volunteering at church. I prepare simpler meals even though I really enjoy cooking. I’m stepping out of roles that I felt spiritually called to because I’ve realized my purpose in putting everything I have into serving my husband and our customers through our business. As I got overwhelmed, I asked God, “Do I reduce my time in the business or do I reduce my time outside of the business?” and he made it evident in how my gifts and abilities are being used in a passionate way for a greater purpose through my role in our business.
Discussing our individual vocational callings is a enormous topic and there is no black and white answer. The Theology of Work Project provides some great insite to get you started in thinking about this. You can start by praying through these three questions:
- Are you involved in building God’s Kingdom through your God-given gifts and abilities in some area of your life?
- Are you passionate about your job?
- Do you think what you are doing has a greater purpose?
If you answer “no” to any of these questions, it may be leading to some of the stress you are experiencing. Take some time to sit with God in His Word and seeking Godly counsel as you discover what you need to do to change the answer to “yes.” I’ve done this many times over my life and it is completely worth it.
We’re always going to experience stress in our life and in our work, but if we take a moment to exhale the bad and inhale the Good, take a day each week to rest, and stay on the path on which God is leading us, we can make strides away from stress and into a productive purposeful life.
If you enjoyed this piece, Bethany Marinelli also runs her own personal blogs:
- If you’re looking for a honest, but Biblically-sound personal growth inspiring blog, check this out!
My Father’s Kingdom
- When it comes to car repair, it can be easy to be overwhelmed with decisions when you don’t know what’s going on. In her business blog, Bethany breaks down auto repair in a way that all of us can understand. This is a great resource!
From the Mechanic’s Wife
Bethany Marinelli is a co-owner with Marinelli Auto Service and an active member of YPN! Marinelli Auto believes in the value of skilled work done well and backed up by high-quality parts. At Marinelli Auto Service, You Are Protected and You are Valued.