Stress: Distress or Eustress?

stress2-smStress is something we’ve all experienced: that feeling right before taking a test (especially if you haven’t studied) or the feelings you get when there are too many things to get done and not enough hours in the day. Maybe it’s the tension in the air when certain people are around. Stress causes us to behave differently, to not think clearly, and in some cases it can cause physical illness or even heart conditions. It can also lead to anxiety or depression. In our “normal” use of the word, stress is not a good thing.

Recently, I heard about a distinction that some are making. They describe two kinds of stress. The first and most commonly used understanding – “distress,” and the second is called “eustress.” Eustress is a positive form of stress – a “good” stress. You know this one too, but probably never considered it stress. It’s the feeling you get when you’ve got a good workout going and your adrenaline is rushing through your veins. It’s the feelings you get when you’re riding a roller coaster or that hopeful concern right before your wedding ceremony. These are all forms of stress too. They cause us to behave differently, to think differently, and can cause physical reactions too, but we place this stress in a different category – for that matter, we don’t even call it “stress,” but use words like excited, nervous, or apprehensive to describe it. Another interesting phenomenon is when both collide. This is seen before childbirth. The physical might be considered distress, while the emotional feelings are typically experienced as eustress.

Interestingly enough, the body cannot discern the difference between distress and eustress. Both are equally draining. It’s important to keep a healthy balance of down time to combat these effects.

Here’s why I went into all this: What if we could trick ourselves? What if we could look at our “distress” situations as “eustress?” Could we take threats and think of them in terms of challenging opportunities? These kinds of ideas really bring me back to the Scripture in Gen 50:20 where Joseph says to his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” Can we follow Joseph’s example and see the distress of our lives as something that God can use? Opportunities for Him to show up? Situations where He can be glorified? Areas where we can learn to trust Him more?


Prayer: Lord, You know my stress. I don’t know what the future holds. I won’t have a job in a couple of months or any way to support my family. I feel stressed – distressed. Help me to think differently – to see things as You see them. Help me to understand that this stress is simply another way that You’re at work our lives. Help me to trust You with the situation. Help me to bring You glory and feel exhilarated and excited rather than anxious and depressed. I know You are close to me, but I still feel alone sometimes. Touch me. Comfort me. Allow me to walk in Your Shalom. AMEN.


RePost: Tyranny of the Urgent

Creative Commons License photo credit: Pulpolux !!!On the rush to lunch+

I posted this one other time back in 2007, but was struggling with some of the same issues today. I thought it was worth reposting:

Charles E. Hummel writes, “We live in a constant tension between the urgent and the important.” He talks about a cottonmill manager who said, “Your greatest danger is letting the urgent things crowd out the important.”

These ideas describe my life perfectly. I can rush from one great ministry event to another without ever meeting with God. I can work my fingers to the bone serving God and never experience Him. I can get so busy with the work of God, that I don’t really ever “work.” (I’m of no use to God). We must be very careful about priorities. A leader must be intentional about deciding what things are important and he must devote time to those things even if other “good” or “urgent” things are put aside. The “good” can be the enemy of the “great.” What’s that old saying? “If the devil can’t tempt you, he’ll make you busy.” He’ll do whatever it takes to render the believer useless. If the leader doesn’t set his calendar, then the calendar will run his life for him. Each of us is gonna be held responsible for being the steward of our time so we can’t let our calendars run our lives – we’ve got to decide what’s important and what’s not.

Thanks to Mike Mathews, my father-in-law, I first learned of Hummel’s essay “Tyranny of the Urgent” quite a few years ago while doing a Bible Study called, “Growing Strong in God’s Family.” It was truly a life-changing article for me. You can check out the full article (only 4 pages) here: Tyranny of the Urgent

The Godbolds

With_godbolds
I just saw this picture and thought I better write something.
These are some of our best friends in the world. As a matter of fact Miranda and I have both lived in their house at one time or another. No, we weren’t living there at the same time before we were married. Anyway, Jon and Laurie just hosted our group last weekend at their place in Livingston for a retreat. We had a great time and for me, it made me think about how much I’ve really missed them. Anyway, I think God for them. For their friendship, support, love, encouragement – for the laughter, memories, songs, trips, meals, and prayers.