Have you ever had one of those days when everything just seems to go wrong?
Who am I kidding? We have all had days like that. You start out with a strong-willed three year old who insists on wearing pajama pants and a superhero costume to Mother’s Morning Out and end up with a preteen who puts a bit too much sass in her response to the question, “Will you, please, set the table?”
Today was one of those days for me. I would love to tell you that I handled the stress I was feeling with grace and goodness, but I didn’t. I lost it…big time.
My temper tainted the tone of my voice, and one of the little hearts I’ve been entrusted with was hurt in the process.
It wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t right.
After all, the fruit of the spirit is “goodness,” and in that moment, I simply was not good.
I was angry, selfish, and sinful.
It’s so easy to be that way sometimes, isn’t it? When we’re tired and stressed and under a great deal of pressure, we can forget how important it is to be holy like He is. It’s much easier to snap at the rude receptionist who answers the phone at the after hours clinic than to remember that it’s flu season, and she’s under a lot of pressure, too.
We let go of goodness.
Instead of giving grace, we become the ones who need it most.
As I look back over the events of today and my poor reaction to them, I have to wonder: how can I do better next time? How can we access the strength of the Lord in seasons of overwhelm?
How to Live God’s Goodness Even When You’re Stressed Out
Acknowledge Your Need
First, I think we need to acknowledge our need for a Savior. The truth is, as long as I try to go about my days in my own strength, I will always find it insufficient. I need the power Christ provides each and every day to have the ability to shine His goodness to others.
Honestly, I simply can’t do life in my own strength and none of us are just “that good”.
2 Peter 1:3 says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”
Through his Spirit, I can control my temper because “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
Focus on People, Not Problems
When we’re frustrated or angry, it’s easy to focus on the situation and forget the souls involved. We can easily miss opportunities to minister to others when we’re more focused on their failings than on strengthening their faith.
No matter how angry I was about my son’s behavior, I would have reacted differently if I had stopped to remember his actions weren’t receiving my words. Instead, my words were heading straight to the heart of a child I love.
While discipline is an essential part of parenting, we have to remember that even when he is angry, God is always good. He disciplines to restore, and that should be our goal as well (even when it’s REALLY hard!)
Ask God for Wisdom
Before we react, we need to pause. Take a moment to remember what is most important in the situation. I challenge you to not just count to ten, but to pray. Ask God for patience and for wisdom in that situation.
And trust that He is faithful to supply what you need to show goodness in moments of weakness.
James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
Chances are a few quiet moments will help put things in perspective.
Maybe the customer service representative you’re talking to needs to hear a kind word today. Perhaps your child needs to snuggle up and remember that he’s loved. Maybe you need to take an opportunity to learn a little self-control.
We all do sometimes.
Have a Humble Heart
,When we’re stressed but trying to live God’s goodness. it’s important to ask others for forgiveness when we fail. We all certainly will stumble from time to time.
When we need to be humble and honest, and we’ll find that even when we aren’t “good,” God’s grace gives us opportunities to point others to the One who always is.
Then, when we humble ourselves before our children, we can teach them about what it means to sin and how we can all be forgiven. When we stop to apologize when we’ve spoken harshly to someone else, we admit that we were wrong and show that we value that person. It’s an opportunity to let them know they’re loved.
You see, if we let them, even our failures can be used to show others God’s goodness.
“And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
With these simple strategies, it IS possible to shine God’s goodness to the world, even in stressful seasons.