“It’s one of those days!” How many times have you said that? If you read my last article, you know what not to do when you’re having one of those days, months, or years. Here are five tips on what you can do to produce calm when you find your heart quivering.
How to Stay Calm
First, we know from Psalm 23 that God’s goodness and mercy surround those who call Him their shepherd. You know it, but sometimes seeing is believing. Intentionally look for God’s goodness and grace in each situation. Graham Cooke believes if you’re in Christ, so are all your circumstances. He’s got your problems in His hands, and where Christ is, so is grace, goodness, and all the fruits of the Spirit. But you can miss these blessings if you aren’t watching for them.
This next one may sound basic, but it’s worth stating: stick to a routine or schedule as much as possible. It’s not a great time to start something new or different unless you know it will be a stress reliever. Also, making major decisions when you are stressed out often doesn’t work well. For instance, if you are experiencing marital difficulties and your child is having health issues, it may not be a good time to change jobs. But it is a good time to get up and go to work in the morning, even if it’s not your dream job. Routines and schedules give us stability, which is what we need when problems are piling up.
Elisabeth Elliot and Dirty Dishes
When major areas of your life are crashing, Elisabeth Elliot’s advice is to do the next thing. She should know, having lost her husband Jim to the Auca Indians he set out to evangelize. She was just a young bride, left with a baby. What do you do with all that sadness? You do the next thing. Are there dirty dishes in the sink? Clean them. Is the refrigerator empty? Go to the food store. The idea is, just keep putting one foot in front of the other, doing what needs to be done for others and yourself.
Here’s another basic but highly effective key to peace: be demonstrably thankful each day. No matter what you are going through, you have something to be grateful for in addition to God’s love, Jesus’ suffering on your behalf, the comfort of the Holy Spirit, etc. You can start by verbalizing your gratitude to God, but I encourage you to go further. I keep a prayer journal with lists of the things and people I’m thankful for. If you like social media, you can post your thankfulness on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and other sites. Begin your prayers with thanksgiving – for the attributes and wondrous works of God. Also, tell others. I have one particular friend who will receive texts and phone calls from me when I see God moving on my behalf. Perhaps you have a friend or two that you can share with.
Finally, a great way of beating your blues is to find someone you can help. This can be accomplished in big or small ways. It may be showing kindness to someone in the grocery store. It may be donating to a charity. Perhaps it’s finding a place you can volunteer on occasion. The point is, getting your mind off your troubles by focusing outward is good for your soul and good for others. One trip to a soup kitchen, handing out food to needy people, put my own struggles into perspective almost immediately. In his famous prayer, St. Francis of Assisi reminded us of the healing power of helping others. Give it a try, and the other 4 keys to calm. Your circumstances may not change right away, but you’ll begin to grasp the peace that surpasses understanding.