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Across the Pastor’s Desk: Change can be stressful

Across the Pastor’s Desk by Jill Marin

 

People, let’s be real. Change is stressful. And this year has brought a lot of change. Life can be weighty enough. Add a global pandemic of issues on top of it, and bam! It can be a recipe for disaster. We may not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jer 29:11.

Jill Marin

But, how can we manage life as individuals, couples and families?

As individuals, it is vital to look at everything through a lens of gratitude. Generally, I would not recommend comparing ourselves to others, but this is actually a great time to do it. Do we have food to eat, a safe place to be and a roof over our heads? Do we have clothes to wear, heat, transportation and clean water? Do we have life and health? Do we have items of comfort and entertainment? Do we have individual freedoms? Many in the world today and throughout history do not.

“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Ps 118:24.

In addition to gratitude, find other good coping skills. Avoid using alcohol or drugs to cope. Talk with a friend or family. Cook. Dance. Read. Pray. Try something new. Give yourself a break. Care for yourself. Some are thinking of 2020 as a “throw away year.” On the contrary, we are blessed to have this year of life.

As couples, we can realize there are extra stresses in our lives right now; but, as one, we can work through them. Realize every relationship has issues. We are two imperfect people coming together as an imperfect unit. Do not fall to the temptation to take out frustrations on your spouse or family. Zip the lip and take a break if needed. Talk about your frustrations during a time when you are not angry. Use “I feel” statements and talk about behaviors. Avoid name calling. Look for the good in what your partner brings to your life (there’s that gratitude again). Assume they have a positive intention in what they are doing. Express appreciation.

As families, this is a time filled with opportunity. This thought may seem the furthest from the truth, or even overwhelming. We are so busy, how can we find opportunities? We can find them in everyday life.

As our children are in our homes, we are their models. They learn from us how to live life. One way is to show them how you can cope in a functional way. For example, if you are feeling stressed about a situation, tell them in words they understand, and let them know how you are addressing it — maybe you will take a walk together rather than cleaning rooms today. Sometimes, children can think they are the problem if they are not told otherwise. Take a minute to pray together, read together or play a board game. Keep a routine. And parents, please do not allow devices in bedrooms overnight. Children and teens need time to decompress away from all of the disruptions devices can bring. If your child wants music or needs an alarm, there are other ways to give them this other than their device. Sometimes we try so hard to give them what we didn’t have, we miss giving them what we did have. Remember the peaceful nights we had with no devices in our rooms? It gave us strength to walk to school uphill both ways in a blizzard.

Finally, my go-to coping scripture: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Rom 8:28.

Jill “PJ” Marin is a pastor at Grace Christian Church in Albert Lea.