How We’re Learning
By Muriel Gregory
May 2002 was a busy month. I gave birth to our third child four days after taking my finals for college. June was a blur. I adjusted to being a mom to three young ones. I was taking my last required classes online and packing the house for an upcoming PCS. All this while my husband was away on TDY.
I do not remember much of July 2002. My sanity was more than likely gone. All I know is that I kept the kids alive and that we were PCS ready when my husband came home.
Birth of a child, moving, finishing school all belong to life’s top stressors. It is fair to say that the military caters to more stressful opportunities than most other lifestyles.
There are countless studies and articles discussing the effect of stress on the military. From PTSD to suicide, domestic violence to divorce, stress can be extremely destructive.
Since stress is unavoidable, how do we deal with it?
And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he (Jesus) was asleep. Matthew 8:24
I love this picture of Jesus sleeping in the middle of a storm even as the boat is being swamped by the waves.
What a beautiful picture of equanimity.
Equanimity is defined as evenness of mind, especially under stress. It means finding peace in the midst of what life throws at you. Jesus displayed equanimity. Jesus also gave us his peace.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27
The reality is that we too can rest and not fret when our boat gets swamped by the storms of this life.
Peace is not the absence of stressors, issues, and problems.
We can have peace when the deployment orders come.
We can achieve equanimity when the new duty station is not what we wanted.
Our mind does not need to fret when the doctor comes back with less than desirable news or when our teenager is acting out.
Peace is a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22). We have it. It just needs to be activated. I am not an expert at dealing with stress. It still gets the best of me at times. But here are some tricks that have worked for me over the years.
How to Be Free from Inner Chaos:
- Acknowledge that you have His peace accessible to you. Pray for God to grant you His peace. He will.
- Cease striving; be still and know that God is bigger than what you are facing. Psalm 46:10
- Cultivate equanimity by looking for joy (Philippians 4:8). Be grateful for the little things. In the midst of turmoil, there is always something to be thankful for. Birds singing, sunshine, warm coffee, a friend’s hug, a child laughter…
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
God wants us to be equanimous. This peace that transcends all understanding is what sets us apart from the rest of the world. We can achieve it. Not in our own strength but in His.
- How do you normally react to stress?
- What would happen if God was the first thing you reached for during stressful times?
- What practical step are you going to implement to cultivate equanimity?
Jesus, thank you for showing us the way, for displaying perfect peace in the midst of a storm. I am grateful for your peace, one that transcends all understanding. Amen
Verses for Further Reading: