It is kind of ironic that I am writing a blog post about staying calm under pressure as a follower of Jesus.
Well, historically, I am terrible at this. It has only been recently that I have been led to make many changes in my life to facilitate staying calm, slowing down, and leaning into Jesus when the pressure is on.
There were several things that led up to this change but one is especially notable. In September of 2020, I had a heart attack. More specifically I had Stress-Induced Cardio Myopathy. I was 34 years old. If that wasn’t a wake-up call then I don’t know what is.
Up until that point, I thought I had to carry everything myself. All of the stress, pressure, and busyness that comes with being the mother of five children. This was my life and my kids. I had to drive them all of the places, do all of the activities, handle all of the problems, make all of the appointments, and anything else that came up.
All of this while trying to be the wife I needed to be along with working a part-time job and a side hustle as a freelance writer. My husband is a teacher and is amazing at his job but we just can’t be a one-income family on teacher income. So work couldn’t go.
I had to do it all.
I was surviving on too much coffee, not enough sleep, and an unhealthy amount of sarcasm coupled with a whole lot of “I’m fine.”
Here’s a secret, I wasn’t fine. Nothing was fine. I wasn’t leaning into Jesus or trusting God with any part of my life. It is shameful to admit that in writing, but I was just strong-arming my way through life. Which is not what Christians are supposed to do.
Jesus tells us that his burden is easy and his yoke is light. That doesn’t mean life will be easy but when we let Jesus shoulder the weight, life doesn’t weigh us down.
I had honestly missed the whole point. I was doing some kind of work every day either writing for a client or working for the church. I had no time for rest. No time for the sabbath. No time to sit in awe and gratitude with my savior. No time for prayer.
This was a recipe for disaster and disaster struck indeed.
As much as I want to tell you that the heart attack immediately changed everything it wasn’t until after Christmas that things changed. I was gifted a large number of books, blankets, journals, and other items promoting rest for Christmas from several people.
One book, in particular, convicted me and started me on the path of slowing down and culling the herd, so to speak. If you haven’t read “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry” then run, don’t walk, to your nearest Amazon account and order it.
Seriously, right now. I’ll wait.
Did you order it? Okay, awesome. Let’s continue.
That book challenged me to slow my life down so I could hear God. To eliminate excess so I had the margin to follow God’s lead in my life. This is really oversimplified but Amazon should have it on your doorstep in about two business days.
Read it as soon as it arrives. Then read it again.
Okay, moving on, here is what I have implemented in my life to stay calm under pressure as a follower of Jesus. And let me tell you, they have been game changers!
Only Have One Job
While this may seem like a given. It isn’t always. And let me lead with this. There are certain circumstances in which someone may need to have multiple jobs for a season. I am talking about when you have the option to only have one job, then you should choose to do that.
For as long as I have been working, which I started at 15 years old, I have always carried more than one job. It might be the main job and a side hustle but I was still doing multiple things to make money. One time right out of college I had two jobs and worked three months without a day off.
That is insane.
But I was working constantly until a few months ago and having only one job seemed like a dream. After spending a significant amount of time in prayer and handing my job situation over to God, things changed and I can now say I have only ONE job. And it is one I really enjoy!
It has created a margin in my life for my kids, who are my most important mission field, my husband, my God, and rest.
Take a Sabbath
Taking a sabbath from your daily work and the to-do list is imperative to staying calm as a follower of Jesus. This is not a new concept to some but I have newly embraced this concept and not only the concept.
I am also implementing this in my life.
After I read “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry” I realized I was missing rest in my life. By rest I mean intentionally putting down my work. I turn off the laptop and the cell phone. My to-do list is also put away.
This is a day for me to enjoy what God has already done in my life and to express gratitude for what I have been provided. It gives me time to enjoy my kids, my husband, and my home. It also creates space in my life for neighbors and the community.
I always thought I couldn’t take a Sabbath because I am on staff at a church. How on earth can I Sabbath when I work on Sunday? Well, I start Friday night and continue through Saturday. This has been a major game-changer for me and my family has definitely noticed that I have more time for them.
With that being said, I am not legalistic about Sabbath. I still cook for my family and take care of my kids. My kids also have different sporting events on Saturdays that we attend. For me, the biggest thing was cutting out work and the technology that was controlling my life and keeping me hurried as well as panicked all of the time.
Those two things do not allow you to remain calm as a follower of Jesus.
Don’t Let Technology Rule You
I have started doing something amazing. It might shock you. It shocked my husband in the beginning.
I turn off my phone EVERY NIGHT. When my kids go to bed my phone goes off. Whatever happens after 8 o’clock can wait until morning. John Mark Comer calls this “parenting your phone.” I love that phrase!
When we are constantly inundated with what is happening on Facebook, IG, other social media platforms, or the constant stream of text messages we can’t connect with those who are actually sitting in the same room, let alone our God.
Make Room for What God Has For You
We like to fill our lives with activities and busyness. The problem with that, is often we no longer have room for what God has planned for us. We have made all of the plans and penciled God in on Sunday morning or maybe our weekly Bible study.
All of those things are great. We aren’t to forsake the fellowship of believers but God has plans for us every day. He has something for us each day we walk this Earth. Something for his perfect purpose that plays into the reason we were created to begin with.
If we don’t have room in our schedule to be with and hear from God every day then we are going to miss what he is saying and where he is sending us.
Be Intentional With Your Time
Part of making room for God is being intentional with our time. Making sure we aren’t wasting time on things that we want but aren’t the things that God has for us.
This includes being intentional with your children and the way you disciple them, interact with them, and love them. This includes your relationship with your spouse. They are a gift given by God to bless your life and bring you closer to God. Take intentional time to spend with them and pour into that relationship.
Be intentional about what you give your time to. There are so many good things to say yes to but follow the next tip and pray about anything you are considering giving time to.
Pray: ABOUT EVERYTHING
When I say everything, I mean everything. Prayer is a conversation with your creator. If you are considering a job change or a place to volunteer, pray about it and actually listen for the answer.
If you are struggling with something personal then pray about it. This might be my number one tip for staying calm under pressure. When I feel the pressure starting to mount I do my best to escape and spend some time in prayer.
I tend to feel insecure and take things personally. I have recently started taking this to the Lord in prayer before I start to overthink, or when I’m in the middle of overthinking. God wants to talk to you. He is a loving Father who has all of the time in the world to have a conversation about your life.
Consume Your Daily Bread
God’s word is a powerful tool for believers. This is a book all about God. The one who created us all sent us an instruction manual for how we need to live our lives to please God and live with him forever. I mean, that is amazing! I’m still in awe when I think about this.
Reading God’s word every day has been so key for me when it comes to staying calm under pressure. My favorite verse is Exodus 14:14 “God will fight for you, you need only to be still.” I remind myself of this verse and the truth of it constantly.
God isn’t just standing beside me, he is actively fighting my battles. I can only know that when I am committed to hiding God’s word in my heart every day.
Let People Help
There is no way that you can do this all by yourself. Trust me. I tried. One practical thing is to arrange carpools for kids.
If you have a friend that is already picking up at your kid’s school then ask if you can arrange a carpool. I used to pick up at three different campuses but after God helped me realize that I can’t do everything I made some changes.
A friend offered to pick up one of my kids with her son and bring him home every day. My husband also pointed out that special needs buses have wheelchair lifts and have shorter routes. So now our older daughter rides the bus every day.
This is just one example of how you can reach out to your community to help carry the load. I reciprocate this when I can to help with other pick-ups, sporting events, or just having kids over to play.
Helping each other takes the pressure off and meets the needs of more than just one person.
I want to encourage you to take some time to pray about how God would have you make some changes in your life to take the pressure off as you follow Jesus.
Looking for a community or someone to grab coffee with who is in a similar life season? We’d love to connect with you and get to know you better! Below you will find a few people that can’t wait to meet you, shoot us an email so we can make a plan!
Tyler OJ Campus
Teresa Ator: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bethanie Tayler: email@example.com
Tyler UB Campus
Max Heller: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chrisleigh Heller: email@example.com
Molly Pontius: firstname.lastname@example.org
Debra Kirby: email@example.com