September 10, 2015

Feeling Stressed About Life

It is Thursday and it is cloudy outside. I know that I should be happy about the clouds considering the fact that I constantly complain about the hot and sunny weather here in Phoenix. I guess I am feeling stressed and the cloudy skies fit my mood well today. I am feeling unwell, generally speaking, and that is coupled with some excessive tiredness and the realization that my schedule is packed and my time is limited. Yes, I am starting to feel stressed over my life, the details, the due dates, and how I am going to deal with everything on my plate. I am in that uncomfortable place where I see the long road ahead of me, and I feel so ready to give up and give in. Still, I know that I must face the future, walk through the days, and do my very best to stay focused. I am tired, so very tired, and that seems to be the turning point on which everything for me succeeds or fails. Yes, my Achilles heel is fatigue. Let me explain...

If you are not familiar with the story of Achilles, the mythological Greek Warrior, then here is a brief recap for your use. The story of Achilles is as follows,
When Achilles was a baby, it was foretold that he would die young. To prevent his death, his mother Thetis took Achilles to the River Styx, which was supposed to offer powers of invulnerability, and dipped his body into the water. But as Thetis held Achilles by the heel, his heel was not washed over by the water of the magical river. Achilles grew up to be a man of war who survived many great battles. But one day, a poisonous arrow shot at him was lodged in his heel, killing him shortly after.
Achilles heel is a metaphor for weakness and it suggests a vulnerability that can exploited by an enemy. According to Wikipedia, "An Achilles heel is a weakness in spite of overall strength, which can actually or potentially lead to downfall. While the mythological origin refers to a physical vulnerability, idiomatic references to other attributes or qualities that can lead to downfall are common."

We use the term "achilles heel" to represent any area of weakness, whether physical or spiritual. In battle, the enemy seeks to injure the opposition by finding their weakness and exploiting it in order to win the war. In my case, my weakness is fatigue, and I know this is my "weak spot" because when I get excessively tired, I lose the ability to function and to perform well. I am excessively tired right now, so much so that I would prefer to lay down and sleep, at the least, for a short while. It is very hard for me to push through this feeling, and at times, when my stress level goes up, and my physical strength goes down, I find that I am prone to spiritual attack by the enemy. The Word says that our enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion just waiting to devour us (1 Peter 5:8). This means that our enemy, the devil, is aware of our weaknesses, specifically that one thing that seems to bring down our proverbial "house of cards." Yes, his craftiness and cunning serves to mobilize him and his devilish spirits to attack us in the place where we are most vulnerable.

I am aware of this fact because I have experienced this same attack plan for many, many years. In truth, I should see the "signs" well, but often I become consumed with my to-do list, and I miss the approach, that inkling that says to me "Carol, beware of troubled waters ahead." Yet, without hesitation, I blunder on, and often suffer as the result of overwork, pressure to perform, and a crippling sense of doubt that causes me to lose confidence in myself and in the One who has called me and is equipping me for His good work. I take my eyes off of Jesus, and I look to myself. In doing so, I crash down hard. In short, I "crash and burn." I do this so frequently that you would think I am able to see it coming down the pike and that I could take steps to avoid collision. I fail. I fall. I flounder. In general, I seem prone to suffer the "slings and arrows" of my enemy who takes delight in causing me pain, suffering, and hardship. Yes, I easily get routed by my enemy.

Today is one of those very tiring days. I have so much work to do, and I can barely keep my eyes open. Yet, I know that I can do all things through CHRIST who strengthens me. My strength is not in my own abilities or my physical attempts. My strength is in the Lord, and it is with His power and might that I defeat the enemy for another day. I look up, I lift up my shield and my sword, and I press on into the heat of battle. I look to my CHAMPION and my VICTOR, my Lord and my Savior, Jesus Christ, and in doing so, I find that my strength is renewed, and the oppressive heat, heartache, and hassle is lifted. I feel relief, but only when I look up. As long as I am looking to my own hand, my own strength, and my own abilities, I will fall into this same trap. I will succumb to the onslaught, and I will end up battered, bruised, and broken.

Exodus 15:12 NLT - The LORD is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise him--my father's God, and I will exalt him!

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