05 May Message from The Head of School May 4,2020
I read something this morning and find that I have been thinking about it all day. It was a comment by a researcher about the difference between stress and pressure. Pressure, says the researcher, comes with the natural to-do checklist in our heads. But stress comes when we attach negative emotion to the pressure we naturally have. Pressure, therefore, is natural, not a problem. Stress, on the other hand, can be problematic.
While we may have little control over pressure, we do have control over the stress – the way we emotionally respond to pressure, so says the research. This was news to me. I’ve spent a lot of years assuming the negative emotions that accompany my responsibilities were part of the package. Just as so many realities are becoming more clear while we’re living in COVID-world, this too was a remarkable and life-altering thought, that I can exercise some influence on my own level of unhealthy stress by paying attention to my emotions.
I have never been an acknowledge-your-feelings or talk-about-your-feelings kind of person. I come from a long line of feelings-stuffers. Perhaps you do too. But thanks to the Enneagram and a few other insights that God has allowed in my life, I’m learning. I’m recognizing that I am responsible for my own stress. I hate that. But I love that God is teaching me.
I have more than an opportunity, I have a responsibility to pay attention to the negative emotions – fear, resentment, anxiety, anger – that are rolling around in my head and heart. And God has taught me what I need to know. I know how to give my anxieties to the Lord, to “cast my anxieties on Him,” because He cares for me. I know that, because God has taught me that. In my anger, I know how to lean into love, which is patient and kind and honoring and is not easily angered. Because God has taught me that. When fear wells up in me, I know how to ask God to give me courage and wisdom. I know, because God taught me that.
Our children need to see that God is teaching us. What an amazing “life lesson” it would be for a parent to tell a child that they wrestle with fear or anger sometimes. Greater still would be a parent taking the time to talk to a child about what God is teaching them through this struggle. When you recognize negative emotion sliding in on top of the responsibilities you have, turn to what God has already taught you – about who He is, about His grace and His gifts, about who you are, about your tendency to move into other people’s lanes. Whatever it is that is becoming clear to you during this season, embrace what God has taught you, and then wait for an opportunity to let your children in on it.
Learning with you,