My children were encouraged to pursue their talents and their “would-be wished-for but-not-quite-that-outstanding” talents. Work hard, be a team player, and don’t worry if you aren’t always the best. That works for a kid and was actually a lot of fun. But, it doesn’t work so well if you are an NFL football star.
Enter into our discussion – Kirk Cousins, a professing Christian and quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings, who sadly as a team, are out of the playoffs for the Super Bowl. While the Vikings were near the top of their division, winning and losing games came in second to media interest in Kirk Cousins’ stress level. Exhibited in a heated argument between Kirk Cousins and one of his teammates on the sidelines of a game, commentators discussed Cousins’ stress on and off the field and wondered if his stress contributed to the Vikings losing the season.
What I wonder about is what caused Cousins’ stress? I can only imagine the pressure to perform with millions of people watching, especially with a new contract of over $80 million he signed in the spring which set him up with a very long and challenging list of expectations, one being that the Vikings at least should have made the playoffs if not the Superbowl. With this on his shoulders, it seems to me stress was inevitable for Kirk Cousins.
Stress is an emotional and mental response to situations that we believe require more from us than what we have to give or ask us for resources we don’t possess. And, when we think we do not have what it takes to handle life’s circumstances, we feel stress. That is, in general, what Kirk is experiencing and stress is an experience we can all relate to.
Some Christians worry if feeling stressed is sinful. To put you, dear reader, at ease, stress in and of itself is not sin. That is not to say, our response to stress cannot be sinful nor that we don’t make sinful choices that cause stress. But once stress rears its ugly head, we cannot deny its presence nor the requirement that we deal with it. So, here are my top 3 best pieces of advice in dealing with stress that if I run into Kirk Cousins, I will probably pass on to him.
- Accept reality. Life is what it is whether you or someone else is the cause. Take a deep breath, acknowledge what is going on in life and then you have put yourself in a position to pray your way through your options. Stop fighting the obvious and everyone around you.
- Avoid magical thinking. A bad habit to get into is rehearsing all the things that are wrong or painful. Going over and over the issues will not magically bring peace or help find an answer; worrying actually exacerbates the stress. Exercise the self-discipline needed to stop yourself from reviewing the stress again and again.
- Acknowledge God is for you and on your side. 365 times in the Bible, God tells us “do not fear.” The reason He can command us to not be afraid is because no matter the stresses, He is with us. He is on our side. The King of the Kingdom takes care of His children. Remind yourself to whom you belong – you are His and He is for you!
Dear Reader, I imagine there is some part of your life in which you experience stress, even if you are not in the NFL. Perhaps you will find my 3 A’s helpful. Give them a try and let me know. Life is stressful – accept that, avoid magical thinking and acknowledge who is FOR you.
Blessings to you and may your stress lead you to peace. Fondly, Elizabeth