Focus: What stress looks like
Isaiah 40:29-31 (KJV) He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
I saw an older man today, not clean shaven. He was sitting on a bench waiting for a bus. His gray hair was protruding out from under a baseball cap. He was wearing a faded blue jacket and jeans. He was leaning forward—holding onto the top of his aluminum cane—resting his bearded chin on both hands. His eyes were studying the pavement and his whole appearance matched the overcast sky.
I wondered what kind of stress he was dealing with. Financial, physical, emotional…certainly loneliness, too. Overall, it was easy to see his outward expression matched his inner condition. I don’t think he was trying to draw attention to himself—but none of it was hard to miss in the few seconds I saw him. Clearly, somewhere along the way, he stopped trying to hide.
Stress manifests itself in different ways. In the early stages you’re able to cover it up—maybe it even embarrasses you–if you’re prone to be self-conscious. Like when someone asks how you’re doing and you quickly paste on a determined smile and say, “fine”. As though only failures are “not fine”—or as though you’re so used to accommodating people that you wouldn’t want to risk ruining anyone else’s day by saying, “not so great”.
In depression and dependency, a lot of ‘hiding’ goes on. By the time a person is not hiding and you can ‘see’ the stress–it might already be pretty advanced. Some people ‘wear’ stress. Don’t be offended, if this is you. Remember, as we’re trying to recover—we have to see some things about ourselves that may not be totally positive. The ‘victim’ wears stress to get attention. The ‘manipulator’ wears stress to get control. The ones who are in denial cover it up with bright colored clothing, make-up, and electronics. The ones who are totally stressed out aren’t thinking about any of those things anymore. They have stopped thinking about how they look and they might be out of touch with people in general—kinda like the man I saw today.
Stress and depression can have a lot of the same characteristics. Both issues can cause a person to display some unattractive traits—such as anger—feeling like if one more thing goes wrong, you’re going to ‘snap’. Resentment and bitterness are common problems, too. You may battle with insomnia, restless sleep, or lack of ability to stay asleep. On the flip side—some people who are having trouble with stress and/or depression may want to sleep all the time as a way to escape. Relationships almost always suffer when either stress or depression is present. It’s normal to feel a lack of strength. Fainting or feeling faint and weariness can be typical when you are under a lot of stress or in an especially low period.
The Bible often compares the Christian life to that of an eagle. There is nothing grander than seeing a healthy eagle coasting in flight. Eagles love storms. When bad weather comes—they don’t fly for shelter—they use the direction and pressure of the wind to soar into the heart of a storm. It is said that least once in an eagle’s life—it goes through a period of depression and stress. For all outward appearances–it looks like the eagle may be getting ready to die. Its claws weaken and its beak grows long and curves. During this time, the eagle loses its strength to hunt and eat. Its feathers thicken and the act of flying becomes difficult. The eagle is faced with a ‘do or die decision’ that involves a painful transition. For a transformation to take place—the eagle goes to a high rocky area to be alone. In a place of solitude–the eagle literally beats its beak until it falls off. After a long period of waiting—a new one forms. With that new beak, the eagle plucks out its feathers and pulls off its talons. In time, the eagle’s body is fully restored. Strength returns and the eagle once again has everything it needs to survive as well as an eagle half its age.
You may be facing a ‘do or die decision’ in your own life. You could go and crawl under a rock and give it all up—or this could be a time of transition and transformation. Maybe your life isn’t ‘over’ as you have assumed. Maybe you have just used up your ‘old self’ and its time to let God re-create you—as His Word says He can.
Declaration: I will find new strength as I wait on the Lord. I will overcome stress and depression like the eagle. I will receive power as I make the decision not to give in to weariness. Faintheartedness and weakness are things of the past. God is turning everything around so that I can keep moving forward.
All NEW STRENGTH posts are Copyright by Christina Cook Lee as of the date they were written and posted. Please request permission to re-post or re-blog. This material will be published as a book in 2013, by the grace of God. To subscribe to New Strength, select ‘follow’ in the upper left corner of this page.
For music selections that will help bring hope and encouragement during your recovery from depression and addiction, browse:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bW5unzXXC0