Pastor’s wives need to pay attention to the all-important subject of stress management. Our stress level impacts our mental health. Do not embrace stress as a friend spiritually, mentally or physically. We can take charge of our mental health by dealing with stress and mastering it. Stress relief is possible. A few simple steps and decisions can turn the situation around.
Why Do We Get Stressed?
We get stressed because we make more commitments than we can humanely or even supernaturally handle. Feelings of inadequacy, underutilization and unpreparedness may lead to stress. Failure to express ourselves through effective communication can also lead to some degree of stress. The stress we carry around in our minds by not casting our cares on God can also have a negative impact on our lives. The above is not an exhaustive list of all the reasons why we get stressed. I will talk about more reasons in another post.
The Lord gave me a definition for stress many years ago at a time when I was still stressed in spite of the many messages I had heard about God’s Grace. I often felt like I was putting a lot of energy into running on the same spot. At other times, life felt like a roller coaster ride that I was on. My constant prayer then was, “Lord, I want to get off this roller coaster ride. Show me the off button so I can switch it off.” In other words, I was yearning for stress relief.
God gave me a definition for stress in this season of my life. He said, “Stress is the negative measure of the discrepancy between your grace level and your “do” level.” You feel stressed when you are doing more than you have grace for. The stress may be spiritual, physical or mental. Mental stress is the most common.
Do Something About The Stress; Be proactive about getting stress relief
Do something about any intense mental pressure that you may be under. You could reduce the number of commitments you make, engage in fewer activities, or take some time to switch off mentally. Simply turn down the noise in your life. I constantly felt like I needed to have gotten everything done yesterday when I was younger. It seemed everything required my attention, and I was running out of time. I realized that there was more life ahead after I turned 40 and that I would have saved myself a lot of stress if I had known this sooner.
Laziness can also cause a degree of mental stress on the other hand. You feel like you are not living up to God’s expectations when your skills, talents, and grace are under-utilized, and that ultimately exerts a cost to your mental health.
Interestingly, God gave me a definition of laziness recently – “Laziness is the positive measure of the discrepancy between your “grace” level and your “do” level.” In other words, you are doing less than you have grace for. You still have more grace left after you have completed all your scheduled activities.
Don’t attempt to do more than you have grace for and by all means, don’t do less than you have grace for. Be balanced.
Develop Better Communication Skills
Communication is also key to your mental health. I know one of the challenges we face as pastors’ wives is determining who we can trust enough to open up to. Many pastors’ wives live in isolation as a result. There are things we wrestle with concerning our spouses, our children, the church, our personal welfare, which we aren’t comfortable sharing with people.
Everyone needs someone they can communicate with even though it is true that you cannot talk to just anybody about anything. You will not have a go-to person for all your life issues because your only go-to person for everything should be your heavenly father. However, you can still have meaningful conversations with people without violating the need for discretion with proper stratification of human relationships.
A pastor’s wife needs skills in relationship management. Develop your skills in building the right kinds of relationships with different people that God will bring your way. There are those you can talk to about children and how best to raise your kids, and those you can discuss church conflicts with. You can talk to a very select few about your husband, the pastor. Note that they will need to be people who you trust and who are mature enough for such conversations.
Knowing how to communicate with your spouse is also essential to your mental health. You don’t need to bottle things up when a simple conversation would make the situation better. Communication is an essential part of marriage and it is definitely an important part of a pastor’s marriage. So also, learn to communicate with your children. Don’t assume they are too young to understand. Of course, the subject of discourse and the way you communicate must be age appropriate.
Cast Your Cares on God
“Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7(AMP)
You can read the whole chapter here.
What a scripture! That, in a nutshell, is how to have great mental health. Be at peace and cast your cares, no matter how terrible the situation is. There is nothing so great that is worth losing your peace over. God’s shoulders are big enough to handle your problems. Learn to trust Him with everything. Trust that God is handling the situation when you pray, even when you are yet to see changes.
Someone likened the person that prays about a situation but continues to worry, to a man who takes a load to the altar, leaves it there temporarily while praying, and then when done praying picks up that same load and takes it back home with him. Leave the load at the “altar.” Don’t pick it up and continue to carry around in your mind.
In Summary, you can begin to do these three things today to experience stress relief
- Do not commit to more than you have grace for. Set boundaries and learn how to say “gracious no’s”
- Begin to communicate better. Do not bottle it all in. Practice communicating before exploding due to stress
- Cast your cares on the Lord. Once you have prayed about something, leave it in God’s hands.
Say this prayer – “Dear Lord, I cast every care, every worry and every anxiety on you right now. I will resist the urge to keep mulling over the problems that confront me at the moment. You are taking care of things on my behalf and I trust you with my past, present and future. Thank you because I have supernatural stress relief. Amen.”
What to do next
Watch the videos in the Dear Pastor’s Wife Series or signup to receive updates on the Dear Pastor’s Wife Book release here.
You can also read the following books on casting your cares