How To Live Without Stress
I know what you’re thinking. You’ve read the title to this article and you’re thinking, “Yeh, right…” Perhaps like you, I’ve spent most of my life thinking that stress was just a fact of life for those of us who are “getting things done”. But recently, God showed me from His Word how to live without stress in my life and still get things done. But before we can learn how to live a stress-free life, we must understand what stress is and what it isn’t.
Stress is NOT a responsibility, it’s a negative emotion.
Most people believe that stress is a necessary part of living a productive life. We’ve bought into this belief so much that many of us begin to think that stress is a responsibility, and if we’re not stressed we’re probably not being very responsible or productive. The truth is, stress is not stress until we allow it inside of us where it immediately begins to affect how we feel. That’s what makes it a negative emotion. So we have to understand that stress does NOT make us more productive or more responsible or more important. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Because stress is a negative emotion, it can suck the energy right out of us and begin to cloud our thinking. Anxiety and stress have never improved a situation.
Stress is a choice.
There are basically two ways to live; from the outside in OR from the inside out. As followers of Jesus, we’re called to live from the inside out because the Holy Spirit lives IN us and we’re supposed to release His power into our world and the world around us. Unfortunately, most people live from the outside in. They internalize the difficult situations that surround them and they become more than difficult situations – they become the negative emotion we know as stress. We don’t usually have a choice in what happens outside of us, but we do have a choice of what happens inside of us. That’s why stress is a choice. Numerous responsibilities and difficult situations should remain just that – responsibilities and situations. These things only become stress when we allow stress inside of us. I know that it may seem almost impossible to not allow stress in, but that’s because we’re so used to living from the outside in. Living from the outside in is a choice we make because God has also given us the ability through the Holy Spirit to live from the inside out. And therein lies the key to living without stress.
Choosing to be led by the Holy Spirit will alleviate stress from your life.
Galatians 5:16 says that we can either choose to be led by the Holy Spirit or not. However, Paul goes on to tell us in verses 22 and 23 that if we choose to be led by the Holy Spirit, He will produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control in our lives. We don’t produce it, the Holy Spirit does. So if we follow the Holy Spirit, that fruit will be in our lives. But stress is a negative emotion and therefore definitely not from the Holy Spirit. Negative emotions are opposite of the fruit of the Spirit. So, according to the bible, if there’s stress in our life we’re not walking with the Holy Spirit.
Interestingly, the only fruit of the Spirit that doesn’t seem to have an emotional component is self-control. Until recently, I thought the fruit of self-control was there to help me say “no” to my second (or third) donut. What I’ve come to learn is that the fruit of self-control is there to help me say “no” to living from the outside in and “yes” to living from the inside out. When I’m tapped into the Holy Spirit, stress can’t come in because it’s going the wrong way on a one-way street!
Living from the inside out can change the atmosphere around you.
Jesus said in John 7:38 that rivers of living water will flow FROM those who follow Him. Based on the context of that verse, living water refers to the Holy Spirit. When we live from the inside out, the power of God flows out of us and it not only changes our life but also the atmosphere around us. So instead of drinking from the sewer pipe of the world, as followers of Christ we’re called to release His power from within us and let it flow to the world around us. It’s a case of outflow versus inflow. When we find ourselves in difficult situations or burdened with numerous responsibilities, instead of letting stress get inside of us we need to ask, “What fruit of the Spirit should I take into this situation?” If we’ll do that, not only will we live without stress but we’ll offering the wonderful fruit of the Spirit to those around us who so desperately need it.