Too Stressed to Give Thanks? Time to Refocus.

white round analog wall clock

By Jillian Lankford

I’ve had a left eye twitch for the last week and a half. Could be a potassium deficiency. Could be stress or anxiety. More likely than not, it’s the latter. What is there not to stress about as the seasons change and the holidays approach for year two of the pandemic.

I miss my own friends but can’t come to find the time to sit down to find the time to schedule a date with them that won’t interfere with our safety and well being.

Before the pandemic the holidays were joyful. I loved planning gatherings and preparing feasts. Spreading kindness with surprise boxes of homemade Christmas cookies. It’s my favorite time of year for those reasons. Even during the holidays of 2020 I was able to make the best of it. I wasn’t stressed, it just is what it is. I made the best for my loved ones and me. This year is different. I am watching loved ones suffer from deteriorating mental health and families lose their faith. I have been defeated by pandemic worry, sibling indifferences, political and social dishonesty, and inflation. No amount of early Christmas decorating is changing the mood.

Can I go another cold season without a winter coat? Will the thrift store have warm boots in my toddler’s size? When is my side hustle going to contribute to the bills? Where are all these unfilled jobs people are talking about? How will we pay for Christmas? Will I ever be able to resist the comfort of sugar? Is that a new gray hair, wrinkle, and dark spot? This yoga class just isn’t long enough to center my thoughts.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been consuming worry as if it were a drive thru special. There are no cars in line so I’m served right away. Stressing myself daily trying to give enough attention to the littles. Balancing work with keeping the house clean. Managing alone time without depriving my husband. Running myself ragged without losing the good mental health I’ve worked so hard to maintain. But I’m tired and sick of trying to keep it all together in year two of the pandemic this holiday season.

I know when the seasons change and daylight savings ends, it is easy to step off track. It is also harder to get back into the routine of things with so much chaos surrounding us.

Three grocery stores in one day just to find essential foods and items. Long lines, angry consumers, sad workers. It’s depressing. Covid cases rising, children getting sick, more people dying. It’s tragic. I can’t go another year watching families suffer. I can’t go another month dipping into our savings to cover rising costs. I can’t enter another winter arguing with my toddlers to layer up before we go outside because it’s the only place I feel at peace away from home.

Then I realize I don’t have to.

Be anxious for nothing, but all things by prayer and supplications with THANKSGIVING, let your requests be made known unto God. – Philippians 4:6

He shared this from Philippians saying, I think the principle here in Philippians is so so sound and trustworthy. That we would be less anxious and stressed about the things we don’t have if we were more thankful for the things/blessings that we do have. – Jonathan Locklear

This spoke to me. If you’ve lost your focus, I hope it speaks to you. I surrender all to Him.

Nothing is more valuable than the love you have in your heart right now. Nothing is more sacred than the the trust you have in your God. Nothing is more glorious than the troubles you will go through today. Because today has an end but Jesus is eternity.

The whole time I’ve been worrying I’ve just been neglecting my faith. What keeps me centered. What keeps me whole.

I can be thankful for the long lines at the grocery store because it gave me more time to make my littles laugh. I can be thankful for sibling indifferences because it proves our similar passion for family and has strengthened our personal relationships. I can be thankful for struggling to keep my depression at bay because I have the tools to control it. I can be thankful for having the means to search for the groceries we need and pay for them. If I can’t button my coat, it’s ok, what I have keeps me warm until I can find my way home.

When I took the time to let Philippians 4:6 refocus my way I found I can be thankful I have more than I deserve. The house we are growing out of, the tantrums setting me back, this twitch. This refocus. I am thankful for this stress because without it I would not know thanksgiving.

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