Stress used to rule my life. I’m not alone in this. Statistics say that a quarter of Australians are suffering from above-normal levels of stress, which can include severe symptoms of depression. It’s crazy to think that one in every four people you talk to is struggling to cope with things. What’s worse is that some of these people are using alcohol, gambling, drug and tobacco abuse to cope.
Last year, I shockingly witnessed what can happen when a person can’t handle life anymore. A man took his life in front of my mate and me without warning. It was an incredibly traumatic situation.
Personally, I haven’t handled pressure very well in the past. It came to a point late last year when God confronted me with a harsh reality—fear was governing my life.
I never realised how afraid I was until I had this epiphany. Last year, I attended more funerals ever before, which fuelled my fear of people close to me passing away. And then I had all of my personal problems bringing me down.
I didn’t have any control or influence over these things, which made me stress about them even more.
But God pulled me back up and reminded me that He wants me to live a life that is abundant, not limited. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
Looking back, everything that was stressing me out was stopping me from living life positively. Fear is the opposite of the abundant life God wants us to experience. God has told us: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1).
Since reframing life to live more abundantly, I’m no longer controlled by fear of rejection or unknown things in the future that I cannot control.
What I can control is my attitude and remembering that God’s got the rest.
The best example is some of the work we do for Signs magazine. In November last year, I was out on the streets, parks and beaches approaching and interviewing random members of the public. It’s a task where you are rejected—a lot. I also faced a lot of rude comments and reactions. It can be discouraging, and sometimes you want to go back to work and curl up in a ball.
Instead of walking away, I stuck around and met a person who had left church completely, but was interested in coming back. That conversation led to further catch-ups, eventually leading them to visit a Seventh-day Adventist church for the first time. In this case, because God gave me the strength to fight through the fear of rejection, there was someone waiting on the other side who later expressed that it was part of God’s plan to meet me.
Never let the fear of striking out keep you from what God has in store for you.
If you are dealing with stress, anxiety or depression, beyondblue.org.au has resources available to help you.