By Patrick Mitchell – Pastor, Bunker Hill Christian Church, Dean of Students, Providence Academy
With summer finally here, it’s hard not to get caught up in what’s to come. Vacation. College. Summer jobs. Home improvement projects. Getting the boat out (inviting our family out on your boat). Did I mention vacation?
Our agendas become chaotic before we realize it, even when we have the best of intentions to relax and have family time. Family time itself can become business-like if we aren’t careful, treating it like another business meeting or project.
And then we begin worrying about our schedules and plans, agonizing over whether there will be enough time to get done what has to be done.
Welcome to my life, minus the boat. I pastor a rural church and serve as a teacher and dean at a Christian school. I have a wonderful wife who makes those things possible, but I can’t slack on pursuing and loving her well, either. Add to that our four kids, the oldest of which is 5. Oh, and before I forget, I’m trying to finish up a master’s program. Enjoy the free time, right?
Like you, I’m prone to making life more difficult than it has to be by trying to plan way too far in advance. This leads me into one of my favorite pastimes, namely, the ‘what if’ game.
You’ve played it.
What if we do this and then _______ happens?
Or what if she goes there and then ________?
We can ‘what if’ ourselves into a state of constant fretting or paralysis. Students get stressed over school, relationships, chores, and more relationships. All the while parents are stressed over their student’s stress, as well as their own stressing over work, family, church, the budget—wait, what happened to our budget!?!
When I find myself in these whirlwinds, eventually there is enough of a break in the torrents to catch my breath long enough to ask what I’m really stressed about. Why all the fuss?
After all, my family has food, water, clothes—so many clothes that we can do the “I have nothing to wear” spiel. Shelter isn’t a concern for us. So what am I stressed about? What are students stressed about? What are parents stressed about? Why are families at each other’s throats?
The Source of Much Stress
I am discovering that the source of most of my stress is attempting to live out tomorrow today. Jesus speaks the subtle truth we need to hear: Don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34).
Dads, each day has plenty of work to keep you occupied without adding fretting over next week to the agenda. You can only live today. Your kids are waiting today for you to make a memory with them. And your wife is waiting today to feel loved, cherished, and nourished.
At-home moms, each day has enough dirty diapers, runny noses, redirecting, tantrums, and errands for itself.
And my, oh my, momma, if you work during the day and come home to mommying in the evening, how do you separate the two? That requires much intentionality and spiritual, mental, emotional preparedness. But you already knew that.
In all of this, the two basic questions I have to ask are:
1) Am I seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness?
2) What do I need to get done today?
If I am seeking first God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, that is, being obedient to His Word and His will, then perhaps other aspects of life (and stress points) will settle. And if I am checking off the list for today, just today, perhaps tomorrow will be less of a threat. Then repeat–seek God’s kingdom and righteousness…check off today’s list.
May the Lord richly bless your efforts to live today to the fullest for Him and His kingdom.