Tuesday, October 13, 2015


     I've been feeling more stress recently—I'm not quite sure why. Maybe it's residual from our church's family camp and outer island mission awhile ago. Maybe it's from striving with Braden to improve his attitude—mostly regarding academics. Maybe it's Norm's (my friend's) and Grant's (my brother's) divorces. Or my father-in-law passing away. Or the difficulties faced by mother—in—law and unemployed and unmarried brother-in-law who lives at home. Or my aging parents. Or sister's family that seems to be distancing itself from my family along with some of the others listed above. Or my unpleasant work relationship with my boss and boss's boss. Or the good-stress joy of playing bass with our church's praise band. Or my disappointment in much in the world today. Or maybe a little of all of the above.
     I'm not depressed—I've got too much to be thankful for to feel that.
     My mom read me a book in my first year in college (my last year living with my parents) when I was stressed that said that most human emotions—fear, anger, joy, stress, etc.—are biologically indistinguishable. The only thing that's different is our perceptions of them—positive, negative, pleasant, unpleasant, etc. I still wonder over that one. Surely fear and passion would light up different brain patches in an MRI? Or are MRIs capable of sensing our different perceptions? (I doubt it.) I have, however, noticed that positive intense emotions tend to go hand-in-hand with intense negative emotions: a person who cries tears of joy one day often enough may scream hot and angry the next, for example.
     Or how even-keeled people neither tend to get too high up nor too low down.
     I'm emotional by nature so I admire the even-keeled types that are so good to be around in stressful situations—calm and soothing. Not that I'd want to trade positions with them.
     Because for me, a lot of what make my life worth living are those moments of peak intensity: joy, passion, relief, and even sadness, productive anger, forgiveness, and regret that helps me grow. It's all a part of what makes me human and that reminds me that no one has it good all the time and no one has it bad all the time, except in Heaven and Hell. So while life lasts, we may as well learn to appreciate or grow from whatever comes our way, positive or negative.
     I need to write more, I've discovered this very moment. For prior to writing this essay, I was feeling stressed. Putting pen to paper is such a wonderful all consuming task for me.  All the stress just seems to float away leaving a calm, clear air of contentment.
     A few years ago, I experienced some of the most intense negative stress in my life—largely due to medical issues. At the time, I had given up writing for over a year due to horrible experiences dealing with my writing at a prior church we attended. In an effort to release that overabundant negative energy, I took pencil to paper and wrote a novella—a children's story with adult themes. Writing it was one of the single best things at the time to release stress and find calm and peace amidst scary moments.
     When I started typing in the story a couple years later, my stress by then largely abated, I was astounded by how relaxing it was to read. I had expected the stress to transfer to the writing yet it hadn't, and in fact it was some of my most soothing writing ever (without being boring.) I read it to Pene and she enjoyed it. (In essence, I wrote it to her—or at least with her in mind as the primary audience, a “trick” employed by John Steinbeck and other writers.)
     I told Deanne that I believe God wanted me to write and knew I wouldn't do it unless I had to, so he allowed that unpleasant period to enter my life.
     I still believe it.
     So I write not only because I enjoy it, but also because I have to to deal with everyday stressors that can accumulate and grow so big. And because I believe God wants me to.
     Would that everyone had something to rely on for such soothing release, and knew God's love, direction, and purpose in their lives.  (I may not know the last two, but I try to, which helps just as well.)

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