I could feel it building up. Smoke began to waft out of my nostrils. My inner dragon had awakened and the fire was burning. The pressure grew and grew like an ugly volcano. I desperately wanted to remain in control, but the pressure built as I clung fruitlessly to the shredded threads of my calm nature. While with a client, my children escalated to the point of interruption and I had to apologize and mediate two different times in a 30 minute period. I was embarrassed and concerned I could lose business due to their misbehavior with each other.
How could this be happening to me? It was unfair! Though I handled the situation without blowing my top, that boiling pressure was still there. An hour later, while preparing dinner, the slightest noise set off my calm like the loudest thunderclap on earth. I felt like I was having a panic attack or a nervous breakdown. One child clapped her cup on the table. “Bang!” Another was singing and clapping her hands in rhythm. “Bang! Bang! Bang!”
In the past, I knew how to cope with this dragon. Its name is Stress. Perhaps you know it too? We all have ways of coping. Mine was dark chocolate. I would feel that dragon awaken and to silence it—to put it back to sleep—I’d find myself standing in the kitchen. Perhaps the chocolate was in the freezer, or the cupboard, but I’d put it in my mouth and let it melt as I took the deepest breaths I could. The bittersweet, buttery coating ran down my tongue into my body and I could feel the dragon lulling back to sleep.
We panic and need that “fix” to calm us. If we don’t have it, we flail and flounder. We’ve become dependent on an unhealthy solution. We are now feeding the dragon.
Instead, we need to face the dragon. Though food has always been my comfort, I battled tonight against feeding the dragon as much as the dragon itself. In addition to the kitchen closing in on me, the piled-high dishes behind me threatened to finish me off.
While cooking dinner, I began rinsing and loading the dishwasher. With every plate, utensil and cup I transferred, I felt the load leave me. Sometimes clutter can present subconscious stress in our homes. The cleared sink and the cooked dinner were two large “to-dos” that were now off my list, lessening the size of my dragon.
I believe that as long as I’m on this earth, I will have to battle Stress. It won’t be easy, but I can choose healthy ways to fight it, rather than feed it and let it grow bigger.
You see, coping in an unhealthy manner leads to other heads on our dragon. Guilt. Self-loathing. Defeat.
I stole off to the bathroom and took a couple quiet moments to pray and escape the noise. That is when I truly felt peace. In Isaiah 26:3, we find a picture of a healthy coping mechanism.
“You will keep perfectly peaceful the one whose mind remains focused on you, because he remains in you.” (ISV) Turning our mind to God and His promises regarding our situations is a healthy way to cope.
Stated a little differently:
“You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You.” (HCSB) Where we are placing our dependence is significant. There are many promises, and He keeps them all. I encourage you to find a short verse that comforts you and write it out. Post it several places. Turn to those words when you feel weak. He is strong enough to carry you.
Are you feeling weak today? Has your dragon several heads? Leave a comment and we’ll pray with you.
It’s all for His glory.