Stress! Do you suffer?
Of course you do.
How much is caused by others and how much do you cause yourself?
When you really think on this, you uncover some rather painful truths about stress. Most of it is caused by yourself.
Like you. I like to place demands on my performance. Far greater demands than I would ever allow anybody else. Well perhaps my wife would debate that, but I don't demand so much from other people.
Like you, I have a desire to leave something of a legacy. I want to achieve something bigger than myself. Something important.
Even though we all know, that, whatever you achieve in this life, you only get one sentence when you die.
Lying in a high-ceilinged waiting space, strapped to a bed with wires attached to my chest, head and arms. A drip in my vein. a pressure cuff around my arm. The room was painted white and reminded me of a clean warehouse or a big garage.
My mind whirs into action and I continue my dive deep into the abyss of panic.
Not about death and the hereafter.
No. I know for sure that I am heaven bound and not just because the bible tells me so. But because just one year prior to this, I had spent an all too brief 4 minutes and 33 seconds in the valley of the shadow of death. This time, I tell myself, If I go, I'm staying.
But hang on a moment. What about the workshop participants? I'd finished day 1 of a three-day workshop and they don't even know that I might not be there in the morning.
They'll all face that awful Bangkok traffic to get in and have wasted their time to come and find no-one to lead them. I have never, ever not run a workshop. Never taken a sick day. Not in 28 years have I failed to deliver. Not once.
And what about the workshop next week. I'd spent 12 years fighting for a chance to serve this particular company and next week was my first chance. Seal this and I'll be set for the next 5 or 10 years.
My colleague and business partner who could take over this current workshop was in the US on holiday. In the Rockie Mountains, on a walking holiday. Not even sure he'll be in cellular range let alone wifi.
Oh Lord. I have no Wifi!!!! I have no roaming, and I have no Wifi.
“Nurse! Nurse! Please I need wifi!”
If only I can get wifi I can take control again. Inform people, get in front of this.
I have just been told that I have Congestive Heart Failure. I was struggling to breathe with all the water trapped in my lungs, and I was fretting about letting my workshop participants down. Letting my new client down. Letting my business colleague down. Letting my wife down for not leaving her with a regular income stream. And there was going to be no chance of leaving a legacy if I leave this earth tonight.
I had allowed myself to get overwhelmed by all these things going on. In striving to leave a legacy and do something important and the one thing that mattered right now was I had no wifi!!!! Now that's when Solomon's wisdom came to mind.
Talk about chasing after the wind. I'm chasing after wifi.
I got a message to my holidaying business colleague. I got a message to the HR coordinator for the workshop. I got a message to another trainer who was going to be assisting me on the workshop next week to arrange for him to take over. And, at 7.15 am my wife received a stream of whatsapp messages through the varying stages of my panic. Cheerfully reassuring her that I was alive still at that point.
I fretted and worried to make sure as much as possible was covered and I wouldn't let anyone down anymore than I was being forced to do.
When was I going to realize that I am simply not smart enough to run my own life, let alone build this business and ministry into something that, in all humility, is a worthwhile legacy?
By 8am I had given up trying to sort anything else out. I was exhausted. The blood tests confirmed that I had enjoyed another heart attack. Thankfully milder than my first one a year prior, or at least having quit smoking and become a little fitter, I was more likely to recover quickly. I had pee'd out a ton of water from my lungs and could breathe more easily. But there was no chance of getting back to the hotel and running the workshop. I was to stay in bed and wait for the specialist and more tests. And to rest. Rest and sleep and try not to worry.
I surrendered at last to God's tender care.
I had been so willing and easy to trust nurses and doctors I didn't know. Even if they couldn't speak English. But I had stubbornly held on to the notion that I could cpontrol any part of my life or my business.
Trusting God. So often this is a last resort: “Well there’s nothing more I can do, all I can do now is trust God.” Proverbs 3:5 does not say, “…with a little bit of your heart”, nor “…rely on some of your own insight and understanding.”
Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. Proverbs 3:5 (AMP)
So I let go.
It took me one fatal and one near fatal heart attacks to learn this lesson.
It's been there for centuries for anyone to read and receive its simple wisdom: “Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” (Ecc 2:11 NIV)
I've been better since. Much better. Of course, I still worry. And then I catch myself and remember staring at that whitewashed concrete ceiling and the clock on the wall, fretting and planning and I remember to pray and let go. I cast ALL my cares and Peace fills my heart.