Take this cup away from me. Mark 14:36
Not another story about stress, you might be thinking. Because stress on
the job is one of the biggest complaints I hear when talking with other
church employees (or from those who work in secular offices), please
bear with me.
As an example of how stress can affect your day, fill a mug with tea
or coffee, and hold it for one minute. Feel the strain on the ligaments
and muscles in your hand and arm. Now imagine holding the mug
for five minutes, an hour, or for all day. By 5:00 p.m., your whole
body would feel stressed—shoulders lifted up to your ears, the neck
crackles or crunches when turned, and you may have symptoms of the
beginning of a nasty headache.
We begin our workday with an empty cup. Unlike a cup of coffee
or tea, in which the weight of the cup decreases with each sip, too
much stress can fill our cup to the brim unless we find a way to put a
lid on it.
One day I arrived at work and, as usual, checked my e-mail for
messages and found one from Ann, my co-worker. “Linda, I have
an emergency to attend to. I’ll see you at noon.” I looked at the stack
of projects on my desk and then glanced at the calendar: 9:00—staff
meeting; 10:00—train new volunteer. My cup went from empty to half-full
faster than I could reply to the e-mail.
At 9:05 I grabbed the calendar, and while racing to the staff meeting
in Pastor’s office, I mumbled, “There’s no way I’ll get my work done by
noon without Ann’s help.” Stress filled the rest of my cup.
When I returned to my office after the meeting, my eyes caught
the words in a frame on my wall:
Thank you, Lord, for reminding
me to breathe deeply before
declaring the day a disaster. Amen