Saturday, September 5, 2015

Less Stress, More Fulfilling

For much of the past several years, I've really struggled with bouts of depression.  I'm not afraid to admit it.  It's something that bothers me a lot, and I've prayed about it constantly, that God would take the depression away, or take away what causes it.  Life becomes such a struggle, and while God never promised it would be easy, He does listen to our prayers, and I live with the hope that he will take this burden away and I can eliminate some of the stress that I feel.  I'm convinced God grants our requests, if it suits His purpose for our life.

So what is causing my depression?  Besides an all over malaise, I know that the main issues I face are related to my job.  I'm in a challenging position of management, with about 65 employees, and must make many important decisions on a daily basis.  I'm naturally a worrier, and a fear of making the wrong or bad decisions plagues me.  In addition, I have a boss who has high expectations, and constantly challenges me with tasks that take me out of my conservative comfort zone.  I'm always concerned about pleasing her.  I tend to be plagued by self-doubt, and I feel like I'm the weak link in my management circle.  This causes me to lose confidence in myself, which then feeds my depression, and I'm stressed out all the time.  The stress has caused a host of health problems, including hypertension, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.  I'm really a mess.

To combat the stress, I've tried to make my personal life easier.  In this, I've been sort of successful.  My sweet daughter, Melody, who is on the verge of entering her teen years, is my biggest supporter, and though we disagree occasionally, like every parent-child relationship, she certainly makes my life easier.  She's a good girl.  I don't have to worry about behavior problems, and she is a fantastic student.  I wish she was more confident in herself, but given my own propensity to doubt myself, she gets this honestly.  She seems to have inherited only the best traits from her mother, and that outweighs the more challenging traits she got from me.  So, while I worry that she should have an easy life, she more than makes up for any worrying I do by her wonderful demeanor.  I love her so much!

We are blessed financially to be able to take fun vacations frequently, and that is another way to combat stress.  While I know my boss would love to have access to me all-day and every day, I do not bring my work home with me, and I definitely stay off the grid while vacationing, which my employees honor.  They know how to get hold of me if they absolutely have to, but the managers under me are very competent and are able to make decisions on my behalf.  And our vacations are always a lot of fun.  As I've noted previously, we love roller coasters, so we have set goals to visit many amusement parks every year and ride as many coasters as we can.  We also have a goal to visit all 50 U.S. states before Melody graduates from high school.  She has visited 34 states (and I'm at 41), so we're well on our way.

So, after a particularly bad Spring, I turned up my prayer life a few notches, and I started asking God to ease the stresses related to my job.  The Summer months weren't nearly as difficult, even though the amount of travel for work increased dramatically.  While I was outwardly frustrated about this, internally I found that I was worrying a lot less than previously.  After some personal vacation trips, and getting out of the office for extended periods of time, I found that I was less stressed, in general.  Then after getting some direct feedback from my closest colleagues, I suddenly found myself with a lot of confidence, and that easily translated into a positive outlook about work.  It would be very easy for me to chalk it up to the kind things said by my co-workers, and my boss, I can't help but see how God responded to my direct prayers to ease my work-related stress.  It is incredible to see God working in my life.  There is tangible evidence that my outlook has improved, and for that, I am humbled and so thankful.

I still have a long way to go.  Life isn't easy, and God didn't promise that it would be easy.  But I asked Jesus into my heart a long time ago, and that has made such a difference in my life and outlook.  Life is so much better with Him in my life.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

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