The words caught my attention. Ambient Stress. Stress that swirls around with no place to go for conclusion. Uncertainty with no certainty in sight.
Some stress we can take hold of and manage. Things within our control such as:
- Stress about our body – we can take concrete steps towards health.
- Stress about our finances – we can do the math and make different choices, or talk to someone who can guide us.
- Stress about our time or commitments or relationships – we can take stock and put in one small change at a time to move things forward.
Ambient stress is different. It swirls around us, out of our control, and we have no way to input or bring change to the actual circumstances. Uncertainty becomes normal.
- When will this virus let up and let us move on again?
- Will I have a job to go back to? Will my retirement savings be gone?
- Will we be able to go camping this summer?
There are some things we can do for ourselves in the midst of this swirling ambient stress.
- We can stop to breathe. Our breath of life is calming as we stop to breathe deeply.
- We can choose where we will focus. On uncertainty, or on thankfulness in this moment.
- We can take care to eat well, rest, and talk to someone when things feel overwhelming.
- We can make a plan just for today. Not to simply ‘get through’, but to enjoy the day, and to reach out beyond ourselves in some small way.
Still, there are some things we can’t do for ourselves. When our needs overwhelm us and the ambient stress swirls us along toward more uncertainty and fear, there is a place to find peace for our souls. Even before the downward pull comes, we can reach out and meet the day in God’s strength.
The Lord says,
“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT
Our weak places can be the very entry point of the Lord’s power. He is the anchor for our souls. He reaches much deeper and holds us more securely than our own power and strength ever can.
Lord, Thank you that You are the Source of my strength. I don’t want to wait for the ambient stress to swirl me downward into the whirlwind of anxiety and unanswered uncertainty today. I am reaching out in faith for the anchor of Jesus. I offer my weak places of worry to You right now. (Name them) Thank you that Your strength can be the power I need beyond myself. When I feel that downward pull today, even before I feel it, help me to reach for Your hand of strength. I pray this with thanksgiving in Jesus’ name, amen.
By Gail Rodgers
Used by Permission
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