I honestly don’t know how atheists get through everyday life. As our country has fallen into a cauldron of darkness and repressed anger, some Americans become a part of the havoc around them, while others live in their bubble unaware of the surroundings and circumstances that are creating a new world order. As Christians, what can we do to keep from falling victim to the world’s chaos? When I find myself worrying about the condition our country is in, when I see the ugly side of people full of hatred and rage, as I listen to nations turning against nations I return to the book of Matthew 24:6 “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nations will rise against nations and kingdoms against kingdoms. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.” Our secular population prefers to use the terms, “Global warming, racists, misogynists, xenophobics to explain such behaviors, as tension continues to grow. Matthew24:10-12 goes on to explain, “At that time many will turn away from faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.”
There are five key areas you can adjust to combat anxiety and stress in your life. Self-help guru types claim that it takes 21 days to form or break a habit. If you can focus on doing something every day for 21 days, it will become a part of your everyday lifestyle. To form patterns out of the critical areas of change is referred to as Keystone Habits. Keystone habits start a chain effect in your life that produces some positive outcomes. Let’s look at the five areas of change; your expectations, your relationship with God, your relationship with others, your priorities and your thoughts.
#1 Expectations: One of my favorite movies during the holiday season is “Christmas Vacation.” The main character, Clark Griswold wants to host the perfect family Christmas. His wife quickly reminds him of how he tends to have such high expectations of special occasions only to be disappointed. I believe most of us are guilty of this at one time or another. Norman Rockwell and his famous Home for the Holiday paintings illustrate families lovingly greeting each other, presents in hand, Old English Christmas carolers, or the family sitting around a beautiful holiday meal. These images all give us that warm fuzzy feeling and expectations that maybe we can recreate such an event in our own home. It seldom ends well.
As Christians, we may feel that we shouldn’t have so many struggles. We follow Christ, we’re making disciples, so we should have an easier go of things. Right? However, God never promised us a life without challenges. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33.
#2 Your relationship with God. With all the disarray surrounding us on a daily basis, it can easily cause a distraction and pull us away from God. It’s imperative we stay connected. If we fill our minds with His words, we can change our perspective about the circumstances that surround us.
#3 Relationship with others. I admit, my husband and I tend to be aloof from people a good share of our time. We often use the excuse that we have worked all week and wanted to spend quiet time together. However, God does not want us to isolate ourselves, but Satan does. That’s when he can do his dirty work of making us believe we don’t need other people. When we first moved here, we didn’t know a single person, so it was imperative that we connected with others right away. As the year’s pass, we have drifted back into our old way of being anti-social.
#4 Your Priorities can be summed up by your bank account and your calendar. Where does the majority of money go and how do you spend your time? If you are someone that allows other people’s expectations of you dictate how you set up your priorities, stop it! You must determine your priorities and set up boundaries in your life to deal with stress and anxiety.
#5 Your Thoughts. The easiest way Satan can try to hurt God is through us. He is the father of lies and death. He loves to cause stress, anxiety, and depression in those of us that aren’t well suited in our armor of God. 1Peter 5:8 reminds us, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Satan knows how to influence our thinking and can lead us away from God.
We know that we can’t eliminate stress and anxiety in our lives. We can, however, look to God for strength and encouragement when we feel we are becoming distant from Him. Even in a world of dismay, we can learn to be a disciple for Christ remember that this is not our home. We are just passing through. God is in control.