With no other employment options at the time, my situation was not a happy one. My boss was making my life miserable. He was self-centered, ill-mannered, and crude; yet, like the clueless manager in the TV series The Office, he seemed to fancy himself everyone’s best friend. Whenever I tried to explain the things that disturbed me, he would listen attentively and thank me, but then he would go on as before, without even a token change in his behavior. I lodged a complaint with his supervisor, but still nothing changed.
It seemed I was doomed to work indefinitely in that stressful atmosphere with no control over incidents that ranged from mildly annoying to outrageous. One of the latter finally drove me to desperation. There was nothing I could do about the situation, but my anger was about to destroy me if I didn’t figure out how to manage it.
I decided “better late than never” and ventured into something new and long overdue: at age 50-plus, I registered for lessons at a local driving school.
To my horror, during just my second class, I was taken to drive in the chaotic Nairobi traffic.
“Try to create space around your vehicle,” was one of the first instructions.
Stress is one of the big "joy killers" that God wants to help us minimize. Stress makes it difficult to operate and is a cause of terrible unhappiness, illness, and even death. According to one news article that I read, between 75 and 90 percent of doctor visits in developed countries could be directly or indirectly traced back to stress.
Faith is an antidote for stress. Faith and trust that everything is in God’s hands, that He is in control, and that He is able to bring about something good from even the worst situations, automatically eliminates a lot of stress from our lives.
As the car kept winding up, up, up, I couldn't help but wonder if our friend's house had been built on the very top of the mountain. Darkness had fallen by the time my sister, two friends, and I got to our destination, but even at night the mountains seemed alive.
Our friend led us up a flight of dark and wobbly steps to the balcony, where we gasped at the panorama. Before us was the most beautiful view of the city of Iskenderun, Turkey, far below. Twinkling lights of all colors lined the Mediterranean, as though an angel had scooped up a ladle of stars and flung them across the darkness.
When our volunteer work took my husband Andrew, our daughter Angelina, and me from Europe to Central America, we were blessed with the wonderful opportunity to visit a peaceful lake in Guatemala that had once been a local center of the rich Mayan culture. In this serene setting, the main event of the day for locals and visitors alike is watching the sun set behind three volcanoes that rim the west side of the lake. Here the pleasures of life are simple, like swimming where the volcanic hot springs rise up into the lake, creating a curious mixture of ice-cold, tepid, and very hot water.
I don’t drink coffee myself, but I was fascinated to observe how coffee beans are grown, dried, roasted, ground, and finally brewed to a delicious deep brown cup of coffee. The aroma was intoxicating, and the taste, said Andrew and Angelina, was divine—a truly homemade cup of coffee from beginning to end.
Every morning I wake up and board an express train leaving from fast track station. As I speed along life’s rails, I stare out the window and think. Where has the time gone? How did my children manage to grow up so quickly? Now it’s happening with my grandchildren. I catch my reflection in the window and wonder where all that gray hair came from. It seems like only yesterday…
In today’s ever-changing and expanding world, it’s hard to take the focus off of what is happening to us externally, the pressures of life on the fast track. But it’s through meeting our inner needs that we are renewed. It can start simply, as the following ideas suggest:
“We haven’t done even half of what we had planned for this morning,” I mumbled as I stepped impatiently into the elevator that was to speed my husband Franz and me to an appointment on the 20th floor of a downtown high-rise. A few moments later, the elevator jolted to a halt and we were enveloped in darkness.
“Not again! Not now!” I groaned, glancing at my watch.
It’s sad how many people are content to let life pass them by. Sure, they may be busy keeping up or trying to get ahead, and they may fill every spare moment with activities that they hope will be relaxing and enjoyable, but where is all that busy activity taking them? When do they really live? The secret to getting the most out of life is living close to Me and My Word.
I don’t mean that you should hide away and give yourself solely to quiet reflection and study; I mean that you should try to include Me in your daily activities and apply My Word to whatever you’re doing. If you do that, your life will take on new meaning and depth. You will not only be much happier and more fulfilled, but you will brighten the lives of those around you as you reflect My love and the light of My Word in all you do.
When it seems there is more to be done than there is time for, it’s easy to get under pressure. We think we’re not getting enough done or are not getting it done quickly enough, so we push ourselves harder. But the fact of the matter is that when we do that, we usually wind up being less effective and getting even less done. What began as positive, motivated action turns into stress.
There’s such a thing as being too sober and taking things too seriously, especially ourselves. The ability to laugh at ourselves is a great asset and helps keep us humble. People who can’t laugh at their own mistakes or take the mistakes of others with a sense of humor are either too proud or have too severe a sense of life.
God intended for us to enjoy living, and He has given us the ability, senses, and environment to do so. In fact, our main purpose in life is, as Martin Luther once said, “to love God and enjoy Him forever.”