Hope in the face of stress, anxiety, and depression
Yesterday I wrapped up another successful summer of microbiology research at PLNU. After cleaning up the lab, I was able to take my team of students on a tour of our new science facility, officially opening in two weeks. We prayed together and said tearful goodbyes, and then headed in our different directions.
Today my family and I are packing up the minivan and hitting the road for Oregon and Idaho. We’ll visit friends and family, eat lots of good food, and hopefully get in some hiking and flyfishing. I often feel like the mountains and rivers of the Pacific Northwest are where I belong, but for His reasons, the Lord has us in sunny southern California right now. Hard to go wrong either way, really.
As I write this article, a year after first falling ill (see earlier blogs), I am reminded how far I have come. I returned to teaching in January and had my best semester yet. I am exercising regularly, investing in relationships again, and enjoying life more than I have in a long time. In fact, because of the tools I now have to cope with stress, I am probably healthier overall than I have been in many years. Although the fight will likely never be over, anxiety and depression no longer own me the way they once did.
Experience tells us that the Christian life is not exempt from trials, disappointments, and stress. If anything, we of all people are guaranteed a rough road (e.g., Psalm 34:19, John 16:33). But it doesn’t have to destroy us. A life of habit and discipline can protect our overall wellbeing. By intentionally instilling in ourselves good emotional, physical, and spiritual habits, we protect our minds, bodies, and hearts from the flaming arrows of the enemy.
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)
We may be assured of trials, but we of all people have reason to hope.
* I know I said that this week I’d post on the science behind stress and stress-reducing habits, but it’s complicated! I’m still working on it. Hopefully it will be done in the coming days. Stay tuned!