My Life with God

The Best of Stress and Not

I had the most stressful day so far in a job I transitioned into a little over a half year ago. As I drove home, I reflected on the day. It had been a good one. Several people worked together to resolve a problem. There was encouragement and appreciation. I felt good about it, and I didn’t carry stress home.

It was the most stressful day I’d had so far in the job, and it felt less stressful than the least stressful day I’d had in my previous job. I was grateful, then began to wonder why. What made the difference? I don’t want to get into specifics out of respect for both workplaces, but I can say this: the environment people try to create and maintain for one another matters. And that’s not just in employment. It’s in so many situations, events, and relationships in our lives.

Working together and fostering healthy environments doesn’t mean stress doesn’t exist. It doesn’t mean we eliminate uncomfortable moments and overwhelming challenges—although I’ve seen plenty of groups and families who take that approach at the expense of not acknowledging the underlying anxiety being created by avoidance. It doesn’t mean we enhance the stress with blame and pressure and miscommunications. It doesn’t mean we make the results or goals more important than people. It also doesn’t mean we minimize results or goals, just that we clarify, communicate, and adjust them as needed.

There are times we can minimize the stress of our lives, but many times we cannot. What we can do is foster sound coping strategies within ourselves and among the groups of people we do life alongside. After all, God gives us many of those people: why would we steward them in any other way?

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