My spiritual director recently gave me a list of events in our lives that can contribute to increased levels of stress and anxiety. With the birth of Lydia, the major transitions happening here at church, and my continued health concerns, I’m almost halfway to “heightened risk for stroke and other medical trauma related to stress.”
Because I’m aware of these concerns, I’m trying to be more diligent about spending dedicated time in reflection. Rather than reeling from one stressor to another, I am trying to slow down and really think about what’s going on. And here’s what I think is going on:
I have become something new.
I was just reflecting on the most important moments in my life when I became something new (I was reading II Corinthians 5). These moments include my confirmation, my diagnosis as a diabetic, my marriage, my ordination, and most recently the birth of our daughter. At each of these moments I became something new.
But what’s really crucial is that I became new in relation to other people. None of these events in my life only affected me, they affected everybody around me.
I became a confirmed Episcopalian. I became a diabetic. I became a husband. I became a priest. I became a father. At each of these moments I became new.
Newness is not always a bad thing, but it’s always a stressful thing. I’m not talking about the stress of a thousand email in an inbox, but the sort of deep-seated, heart-level transitions in one’s life. And what I’ve learned is that God uses that deep-seated, heart-level turmoil to create something new, and something beautiful. Rather than running from the stress in your life, run at the stress in your life and allow God to make you new again.
“O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look
favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred
mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry
out in tranquillity the plan of salvation; let the whole world
see and know that things which were being cast down are being
raised up, and things which had grown old are being made
new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection
by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus
Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity
of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”
P.S. – Please don’t call me asking if I’m alright. Yes. I am. I promise.