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How Can We Help Our Kids Manage Stress?

Two campers

The New York Times recently claimed that stress can be good for you [1]. For me stress has always been a fun waster which is not camp approved. Let’s dig in and see what God has to say about it!

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 

James 1:2-4

Isaiah 41:10 offers a different perspective between trials and joy. “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.” A blacksmith knows that mildly heating a metal by fire, hammering it and then cooling changes its properties. The more times this process is repeated, the stronger and more durable a metal becomes. But letting the metal get too hot in the fire melts something strong into a pile of goo.

Similarly while regular exercise is good; adding it to a full work load, teaching at church, managing three kids, Coaching two of them, keeping perfect pics on instagram, and part time school is…well stressful!

God wants to refine us, to bend our hearts toward him in mature faith. Here are some points for molding trials into perseverance.

  • Exercise the curve – As the phrase “no pain no gain” makes clear, some effort is needed to get the benefit. Just like increasing the ‘work load’ in a workout over time makes us stronger and faster, facing personal and emotional trials transforms discomfort into perseverance. So… share about Christ. Volunteer to teach a small group lesson. Climb the screamer tower. Talk to your kids about (gulp) sex. Be vulnerable with your spouse. Just not all at once!
  • Mind the gap – Each person has a capacity or limit on how much stress we can tolerate. Taking on too much at one time, or even the perception of it causes distress. Distress is not only bad for our heath but also reduces perseverance. I can tell when I’m doing too much. As my plate gets overly full my temper (especially with my family) gets really short. Know your red flags and start saying no! When faced with new opportunities, pick only those testing and maturing you and your faith. Maturity takes time to complete.
  • Remember the Sabbath – Running 24hrs straight has the complete opposite effect of running 1hr 24 days straight. Leave an evening or two with nothing planned and rest (Genesis 2:2-3: day 7). Training kids to deal with boredom develops better character in the long run than collapsing into bed every night from busyness. Availability fosters the tender moments where vulnerability and creativity happen. Downtime completes the work.

To God, our affection for Him is most valued (Deut 5:29). “Consider it pure joy” is not a command to put on our best selfie smile in the midst of trials. It is a shift in perspective. You are valuable enough to be refined. You are precious. Your completeness is desired.

Camper Corner

Too often we can fall into the pattern of staying busy. Read Romans 12:2. Are you doing some things just because your friends are? Which of these activities are transforming you into the person you want to be…or better yet who God wants you to be? Say no thank you to the rest. And invite your friends to join you in the activities developing faith, maturity and perseverance.

Note 1: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/04/your-money/the-contrarians-on-stress-it-can-be-good-for-you-.html?ref=business&_r=1

Republished from 2016

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