Hiding Stress

The view during a peaceful, stress-releasing walk today.

Stress is something that can be obvious at times in our lives, but at other times, it likes to hide out–to fit in the little nooks and crannies and make sure you don’t know it’s there.  That’s been my experience over this past month.  I’ve been wondering over the last few days why I’m so sensitive to even small negative comments people have made to me.  And then two different people gave me some great insight: “stress!”  Being under stress, especially when it’s hidden and less obvious, can tear down your emotional walls so you feel less capable of dealing with hard things that come.  I’ve been feeling like anything anyone says permeates in to the core of my being, and before I’ve even noticed, I’m hurt, upset, and an emotional wreck.

But probably the thing that has made this the hardest is that my stress has been hidden from those around me.  So the stress is both hidden in these pockets inside of me, and it’s hiding from those in my life here.  People here think I’m pretty happy–and don’t get me wrong, I am!  But this stress has been building inside of me, and because I’m still becoming friends with people, sometimes it’s hard to let it out.  But I’m learning how to give it to people in little bits; how to share small struggles as they come up and not try to carry everything on my own.  In my first month here I already have a lot of things in play… and a lot of things still up in the air.  I’m still not living in a permanent place so my trunk is still full of many of my possessions; still don’t have a permanent job, so there’s the stress of not making money; still trying to figure out ministry and what that’s going to look like; and still establishing relationships where we can be emotionally honest with one another.  All of this causes a lot of (hidden) stress!

So, I’m thankful for people who point out to me what for some reason was hidden from me: April, you’re under stress!  I haven’t lost all of the emotional health I’ve gained over the past five years; stress just causes increased sensitivity and exhaustion, and that’s a natural part of the process of any transition.  The people who showed me this are the ones who know me so well that I, along with my stress, can’t hide, no matter how hard we try.  I’m thankful for people who really see me as I truly am and still love me.  I’m thankful that my stress actually isn’t that great at hiding out, because I needed to identify it and give myself grace in this time as I get settled and figure out how to transition well.  And ultimately, I’m thankful even for my stress, because it reminds me that I need to rely on God; I can’t do this on my own, and without God I wouldn’t have even made it this far.

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