Still stressed out? Remember to talk to yourself. This will help you to refocus your energies to think more rationally instead of being emotionally driven. I suggest that you ask yourself these five questions when you’re stressed out.
- What do I know for sure?
- Do I care to know?
- How can I be sure?
- Does it matter?
- What can I do?
Last time, we discussed this question, “What do I know for sure?” It’s important to remember that we should only react if it’s based on a fact. Now, let’s talk about “Do I care to know?”
This is an important question. Do you care to know? Really? Often our problem is that once we get emotionally affected, we don’t care about anything else except how we feel. We become self-righteous. We lose control. Asking ourselves this question forces us to examine our own hearts first. It’s easy to find fault in others; it’s hard to see the “plank in our own eyes.”
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3)
When our emotions are triggered, it’s hard to see or admit objectively that we may be guilty also. We may be contributing to the problem. So asking the question, “Do I care to know?” focuses our attention to ourselves. It takes courage to do this. Remember, we are not responsible for what other people say or do, but we are responsible for what we say or do. In other words, maybe it’s better not to focus on our rights too much. Instead, we should focus more on our responsibilities. The apostle Paul says,
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:17-21)
This passage reminds us of three responsibilities whenever we are stressed out, especially during times of conflict or offense.
We are responsible for our own behavior.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. Whenever we are hurt, we often get carried away with our emotions. Consequently, we say or do things that hurt other people as well. Sometimes we behave like little children whose toys have been taken away. When we don’t get what we want, we become angry. We lash out on others with sarcasm or hurtful words. Thus we reveal our true character, which is often a very negative one. Remember, we must be responsible when it comes to our own behavior. We cannot excuse ourselves just because we’re upset. Let’s not say or do things that others will call evil or wrong. Instead, let’s do what is good and right in the eyes of everyone.
We are responsible for pursuing peace.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. We cannot control the behavior of others, so we cannot demand anything from them. In fact, when we demand, the conflict escalates. Instead, we should do our best to pursue peace. Often this involves clarifying our intentions so that people will not feel threatened. It may mean lowering our voice, instead of shouting. Pursuing peace in the midst of tense emotions require maturity and humility. It may require a listening ear or a compassionate look, so that people may sense that we are willing to resolve the issue.
We are responsible for trusting God.
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Sometimes no matter what we try to do, we cannot change the situation. Conflicts can remain unresolved. Even if we try to pursue peace, people may not want peace. They may want to maintain the conflict instead. We may continue to experience offenses or hurts, in spite of our best efforts to resolve the issue. Whenever this happens, we are responsible to trust God, and not take revenge or use our own power to get even. We must learn to let go and continue to do good instead. As peacemakers we will eventually win, but sometimes we may have to endure injustice in the meantime. It requires faith in God to do good in the presence of evil.
What about you? When you’re stressed out by other people’s behavior, how do you respond? Do you immediately lash out, or do you pause and ask yourself “Do I really care to know?” Asking this important question forces us to focus on our own hearts. This in turn allows God’s grace to work powerfully in the situation. It may not completely resolve your problem, but it will definitely help you to overcome stress. Always remember, before you find fault, check your own heart.
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