When trouble and distress surround you like a whirlwind,
I will laugh and make fun. Proverbs 1:27
A few years ago at a retreat, everyone was given a big campaign-style button with white puffy clouds floating on a deep indigo sky and a tall white cross in the center. Around the rim are the words: TOO BLESSED. . . TO BE STRESSED. I keep mine pinned to a bulletin board next to my desk.
For many years, I served in a congregation with over 4,000 members and five worship services. I produced what seemed like millions of worship booklets, all twelve to sixteen pages long. I started right after lunch on Tuesday and delivered the final copies to the copy room by Thursday noon. Occasionally the director of music or pastor made a last-minute change to the service, and I’d automatically shift into high-stress mode. The palms of my hands dripped perspiration onto the keyboard, and my fingers hit the wrong keys. Sometimes I’d screw up a page alignment and have to print the whole bulletin again and transfer the pasted-up music before skidding into the copy room a few minutes after noon.
It only took one season working during Lent to realize there wasn’t much sacred about that week between Palm Sunday and Easter called Holy Week. With all the extra services, and a bumper crop of bulletins needed for Easter Sunday, I relied heavily on my proofreaders. One volunteer, with an eagle eye, became a saint when she caught a potential bulletin blooper that referred to a woman on the church council as the Palm Reader, instead of Psalm Reader for the Maundy Thursday service.
It takes more than a lapel button to transform me from being a well-seasoned stressor to a tamed tiger in the office. I learned that in order to stay well below the stress radar level, I needed to start Holy Week preparation soon after Ash Wednesday and to stock up on my favorite tea, “Tension Tamer.”
Dear God, help me find one way to reduce my stress today,