Since I was a little girl, I’ve loved jewelry. Whenever we were out shopping, my mom and I would always step into those magical stores with all the sparklies beneath the glass cases.
When Mat and I became engaged, I happened to work at a jewelry store. With that lovely employee discount, we were able to buy a beautiful diamond for my engagement ring. We had it set in a simple design knowing someday we would reset in something more elaborate.
Lately, as braces have been getting paid off and our kids are closer to venturing off on their own adventures, I’ve caught myself daydreaming about the type and style of ring I want. But one afternoon I noticed that I felt happier when I was thinking about a new ring. I looked forward to getting on the computer and hunting down the perfect setting.
And there was something in it that made me feel just a tad off.
So I asked God about it and He told me that dreaming about the new ring was an escape.
And I knew immediately what I was escaping from. Stress. Layers of it.
The bookkeeper in our family business recently resigned and I’m the go-to-girl, traveling back and forth across the state to keep the accounting side of the business operating. All the while trying to maintain my role as wife, mother (basketball season is in full swing for three of our kids) and author.
My brain doesn’t know if it is coming or going. In my wearied state, thinking of a new ring brought me pleasure.
God told me it’s the hunt that brings an exhilaration that creates an escape from stress.
Our world is full of these kinds of coping mechanisms: shopping, eating, pornography, reading, T.V., video gaming, gambling, and of course the internet. Some are seemingly benign while others are more obvious in their damage to ourselves or others.
Eating and reading have been my main relievers. When I’ve had a rough day, the thought of sitting down with a delectable dessert and a good book just makes me smile inside and the stress starts fading away. But if don’t deal with the stress and lean on my coping mechanisms, I’m merely surviving.
And my time and energy get sucked away by stress and avoidance, and then I’m not fully present to invest in the people most important to me.
The coping mechanism isn’t the true culprit, it’s merely pointing to the pressure we aren’t carrying well. It’s our escape from the true stress and pain in our lives. And sometimes the coping mechanism takes over and becomes a serious problem.
Recently, God asked me to go on a forty day fast from fiction reading—-my number one stress reliever.
He showed me that when I could be coming to Him, I’d go straight for a book and dive into someone else’s life to escape the pressure in mine.
I’m not a big internet or T.V. fan, so removing my reading time left my stresses right at the surface. I had a choice. I could drag my feet and endure the forty days (or say no to it altogether), or embrace the fast and see what God had planned for me—–which resulted in deeper intimacy with Him.
So I used that time to talk to Him or start into the stack of non-fiction books that I’ve been planning (for years) to get to, or dig into His word.
It truly changed me. I went from avoiding Him in my times of stress, to running to Him. And, once again, I’ve experienced how kind He is and how willing He is to comfort us and shed light on the load we carry.
His insights and wisdom bring greater freedom and wholeness.
Jesus, would you gently reveal what I go to instead of You? Would You show me how to come to You in times of stress and pain? I want to know Your comfort and love, and have You show me how to respond to what is going on in my life. Thank you! In Jesus’ name, amen!
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