Grateful for Stress

 I have been pretty stressed lately.  From snow days and delays wreaking havoc on routine at my job, to a broken heating system, to racing from one event to the next… there has been a lot of noise in my brain.  While it’s made me want to scream at times, I’m also glad for it.  Because the presence of stress–and the feeling of it–is something of a relief to me.  And I want to explain why.

Another title for this post could be, “The Perspective of Small Stressors.”  I don’t mean this post to be essentially the same as, “Remember things could be a lot worse.”  That can be a helpful phrase in certain contexts, but not an encompassing take on life.  (In other words, you probably wouldn’t want your tombstone to read, “It could have been a lot worse.”).  Instead, I want to explain some reasons I’m realizing to be grateful for a life not in spite of the stress in involves, but because of that stress.

Being stressed about lots of small stressors signifies the absence of larger issues.  The past few years I have dealt with significant loss and terrifying emotional struggles.  To be in a place where I want to scream because I’m frustrated or tired is much different than wanting to scream because I’m desperate and hurting.  Life has a multitude of seasons, and I know most likely I will be back in the desperate place more than once (as well as other places I haven’t yet experienced)… but I’m grateful to be in this one right now.

Being stressed means I care about the things I’m stressed about.  There have been times when I would simply look at any stressors and think, “You don’t matter.  I don’t matter.  None of this matters.”  These kinds of thoughts weren’t in a “don’t let it get to you” vein, but more in a “what’s the point?” vein.  If I’m stressed, it means things are getting to me, but in the sense that I want to deal with the stressors.  It matters to me that they affect me.  That means I’m feeling, and that’s a really good thing.

Being stressed means I’m living.  When you withdraw–literally or figuratively–you significantly limit the amount of stress you can encounter.  Being stressed means I’m engaging, it means there are things I want to do, it means I want to participate in this day and the next.  I know that may or may not seem like a big deal, but it’s huge to me.

Do we have to be careful about the level of stress in our lives?  Absolutely–we live in a culture addicted to it, and some sources of stress we can eliminate in order to focus on more important parts of life.  But just as you can have too much stress, you can also have too little.  I, for one, am ok with being stressed right now.

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