As the thunder rolls…

It is so easy to get wrapped up in the stress of finals, packing to go home, Christmas shopping, finances, etc. I know this is true for me. The weeks since Thanksgiving have been a whirlwind of exhaustion, stress hives, and endlessly cramming knowledge into my brain. 

As wonderful as this time of the year is, it is also one of the most stressful and hectic times.  For everyone. No matter the stage of life.

The other night while Brian and I were both studying for our hardest finals, I had a realization that whacked me in the face (figuratively ;).)

This is NOT stress.

Stress is having no family or no home to go to at the end of the day. Stress is fighting a war on the other side of the globe, as your family tries to have a decent Christmas while worrying whether or not you’ll make it home. Stress is making funeral arrangements for your spouse or loved one. Stress is going to treatment after treatment and only hearing bad news still. Stress is not having enough money to make ends meet, let alone give gifts to your children and family at Christmas.

Final exams are tests. We are students. Students take tests. And regardless of the grade, everything will be fine.

Yes, finals are stressful to a degree. But instead of self-pity, complaining, and anxiety over a test, why don’t we focus on those who are dealing with actual life stress? Instead of wasting our energy over complaining and anxiousness, why don’t we pray for and love these people in their time of need?

We can’t always do this though. The people who are stressing from these life altering scenarios don’t always make it known. The most important way we can care for these people is to:

  1. Pray for them. Truly lift them up to the Lord. On our knees with lifted hands, all inhibitions gone. Pray for them because we want to, not because we’re trying to be “good” or earn God’s favor. Y’all know he doesn’t work like that anyways!
  2. Consider these people as you struggle in your studying, Christmas shopping, moving & packing. Remember that you are blessed enough to have the opportunity to even go to school; so many people do not get this chance but they desire it so much.

At this time of year, it is a challenge for myself and also a hope that I can selflessly love others through my actions, words, thoughts, and prayers. Not because I’m “overcome” with Christmas spirit, not because I want to “look good” in front of others, but because I truly love and care for God’s people.

With this, I am also choosing to TRULY forgive those who I feel have wronged me. Not just forgive them because I’m called to, not because I feel obligated to, not because I’m trying to get them to like me, not because I feel like they have earned it, not to “be the bigger person,” but because I want to. And with forgiveness, comes letting go. Not holding grudges. Loving those who still hate me or who are mad at me. Praying that one day I will receive their forgiveness as well. 

I struggle with this. But I’m thankful for the moment of perspective the Lord gave me on Monday night.

My dad gave me the best advice I’ve ever received the summer before I left for college. It has stuck with me ever since.

It’s all about perspective.

Things are only as bad as you make them or as you perceive them to be. You have the power to change your situation just by changing the attitude of your heart and mind towards things. 

It is my hope and prayer that we can all have a little perspective this Christmas season.