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Focus: Embracing stress
1 Corinthians 2:11-12 (KJV) For what man knoweth the things of man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God: that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
My husband has a high stress job, in my opinion. When people ask me what he does for a living, I like to break in to a southern drawl and reply with a slow grin, ‘He sells drugs’. It always gets an interesting reaction.
In truth, he does sell drugs; he’s a pharmacist. A fascination with chemistry and medications led him to a career in customer service. I’m sure in the six years he spent studying for his profession that he never dreamed how much of his time would be spent solving insurance problems, waiting ‘on hold’ to speak to a doctor, listening to crying babies while he’s trying to concentrate, or telling people where they could find the public restrooms.
When we moved to Florida in 1987, Jeff was blessed to work with another pharmacist who was like a father to him. Fred was one of the nicest, most caring persons we have ever known. Amidst the pressure of the day, Fred made it his business to greet his customers personally and ask how their family was doing. He treated everyone with kindness and respect. Poor Jeff had a bit of a complex for a while after he went to work with Fred. It seemed like nobody wanted him to wait on them. They all wanted to know where Fred was and when he would be back. I don’t know if Fred was always so nice or if he became that way after years of trial and error.
For the first twenty or more years Jeff was a pharmacist he sometimes took it personally when an impatient customer insulted him. I’d try to explain to him that unhappy people are unhappy wherever they go and that the person who had been unkind to him was probably unkind to everyone, not just him. Other times, he would come home and pour out a story of how an insensitive, demanding person had pushed him past his limit. Jeff would go on to express his regret at how he had responded in a way he now wished he hadn’t.
I watched over and over as Jeff made a personal call or visit to the person the next day and turned a negative into a positive, by repenting and apologizing. Some people would have just let it go and figured the rude customer ‘had it coming’. But not Jeff. He really worked at trying to make things right and made a sincere effort to keep his conscience clear. Stress is the true test that shows what a person is made of. It makes some people become mean and makes others become mild.
Another part of stress in a pharmacy is the stringent record keeping and corporate pressure. The importance of accuracy is extreme and the demands keep increasing. For years we have seen the systems getting more and more complicated. At times, Jeff has struggled under the strain. But today, he said he has decided to stop resenting the company’s demands and embrace their standards.
When you’re constantly being told to work harder and do more than you’ve ever had to do in the past, anybody might be tempted to have a, ‘what for’ attitude. It’s hard to keep going when you don’t see the big picture. But Jeff has concluded there must be reasons he can’t see that forces the company he works for to have to keep raising their standards. Isn’t that a beautiful point of view? Isn’t that an epiphany? To reach a point in your place of extreme pressure and stress where you can say, ‘I’ve decided to embrace that there’s a bigger purpose I can’t see and I’m just going to go with it’. I believe that attitude comes by revelation of the Holy Spirit.
When you are able to reach a place of submitting to the bigger purpose, stress is no longer an enemy. It is now a tool in the Master’s hands. Just another one of the many methods of refinement sent for your eventual benefit. Having this change of heart won’t cause stress to decrease—it will just make more sense out of it.
Coming to this kind of awareness won’t necessarily help you do a better job…you will still need a strength beyond your own to have the grace you need in trying circumstances. But there is good news. You have a teacher and guide who can help you. The power of the Holy Spirit will enable you to use these opportunities you’ve been given to develop your ability to show more love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance…under stress.
Armed with this knowledge, you can face stress with fortified courage and see it with new eyes. Stress will not defeat you—but promote you, as you choose to bend and not break.
Declaration: I will find new strength by embracing the pressure and stress in my life. I will trust that God has a plan and purpose that will lead to good things.
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All NEW STRENGTH posts are Copyright by Christina Cook Lee 2012. Please request permission to re-post or re-blog.