These are stressful times we live in. But that doesn’t mean we have to fall apart as a result.
Everywhere I turn I hear of women who have experienced unimaginable heartaches, marriages that are in crisis, families that are financially strapped, and people struggling with cancer and disease.
Stress — whether it be personal, marital, financial, or medical — takes its toll on us in many ways. And it’s natural for us to reach out to someone — primarily our husbands or those closest to us — to get the relief, encouragement or support we believe we need to get through stressful times. But depending on others during stressful times can backfire on us:
- It can push a marriage over the edge when we, as wives, become a burden on our husbands – by letting them know how they are not meeting our emotional needs or expectations at a time when they might have multiple frustrations as well.
- It can damage a mother-child relationship when we expect our grown or semi-grown children to “be there” for us, emotionally, when they might not feel equipped to do what it is we are expecting of them, or respond in a way that will meet our emotional needs.
- It can sabotage our friendships if others perceive us as needy — or aloof — as we attempt to survive our stressful situation by asking for — or avoiding — their help.
But a broken world doesn’t have to result in a broken marriage, a broken heart, or a broken relationship.
There have been many times in the past 30 years that I’ve had to look beyond the “brokenness” that life presents us and focus on the One who is whole and can make me that way, too.
For instance, I’ve had to make a conscious decision to let God “husband” me while my husband, Hugh, has been preoccupied with work, stressed over family matters, or dealing with personal issues. After many attempts to make Hugh aware of my feelings, I finally realized he couldn’t be all that I needed, nor all I expected. (No man could, for that matter.) So I learned to take an alternative approach. Instead of pointing out my husband’s inadequacies – which would’ve added another heap of issues to the pile of stress he was already trying to get out from under – I began to go to God to be my “spiritual husband.”
Isaiah 54:5-6 says: “For your Maker is your husband – the Lord Almighty is his name…The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit….” I realized that promise made by God to His people thousands of years ago still applies to us today, if we would start depending on God to be our spiritual husband and meet our needs in a way that our earthly husbands cannot.
As I began to look to God to be my spiritual husband, I found that it alleviated the stress I was placing on my other relationships as well.
Today, when brokenness is evident before me, or when stress starts rearing its ugly head in my life, I practice these “Three T’s” on a daily basis to stay strong during difficult times:
1) Tell God First – Sometimes we need to vent or just talk aloud about how we’re feeling. But our frustrations can come across as accusations or complaints if we’re not careful. That’s why it’s better to go to God with the venting first. Sure, God already knows what we’re going to say. (Psalm 139:4 says “Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.”) But by telling God first all that is on our hearts and minds, He can be the ‘buffer.”
2) Trust God’s Promises – The Bible is full of God’s promises for provision and protection. So when we become troubled about finances, or other issues, we can find comfort just by remembering some of God’s encouraging words to His people. In Psalm 37:25, David says: “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.” In Philippians 4:19, Paul says “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Looking to God as your Spiritual Husband means banking on the Bible and taking God at His Word.
3) Thank God Constantly — You might not understand why something is happening in your life — or the life of someone you love — but there is always something to be thankful for. We can become people of praise with a contagious positive attitude when we obey God’s command in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to “give thanks in all circumstances.” A thankful wife, mother, or friend is pleasant to be around.
When we practice these three Ts, our circumstances might not change immediately. But by depending on God — and not solely on others — we can become encouragers, rather than accusers, and alleviate the stress in others’ lives, as well as in our own.
How do you stay strong during stressful times?