A stress-free way out of stress

A Christian Science perspective on daily life

I love "To Do" lists. I love planning my week, and I love the accomplishment I feel when I cross off the "done" items at the end of each day.

But I had to laugh when I was on the telephone the other day, holding for a customer service representative, and the company's public service recording suggested that in order to reduce stress, I should make a plan that included no more than three major things I expected to finish in one day.

Three things for the whole day? As a wife, mother, friend, teacher, writer, and spiritual seeker, my list includes more than three major things to accomplish before lunch.

Stress is no laughing matter, though, and there was a time in my life when I simply had to find more peace and balance.

I had a 2-year-old at home, I was working full time, I was going to college at night, and I had a commute of over an hour every day.

My husband and I spent every waking moment working to keep our little family afloat, but money was tight and leisure time was nonexistent. By the time we both got home, the six o'clock blues would hit, fatigue would rise up like a wall, and dinnertime was anything but relaxed.

I have never believed that the frantic jumping-through-hoops mode is what God intended for His creation, and I knew that there was a spiritual answer to time pressure. I turned to what I've come to know as Mary Baker Eddy's guidebook for living, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." One passage was, and continues to be, particularly helpful: "The devotion of thought to an honest achievement makes the achievement possible" (p. 199).

At first I interpreted this to mean that we should quietly sit down and intelligently brainstorm solutions to the legitimate need of finding order, beauty, and peace at home, and I wasn't wrong in thinking this. But over the years, I have been privileged to experience a complete peace that comes from recognizing God as "The Do-er." When I seek truly to do His will as I go about my day, instead of fearfully and willfully bulldozing through my own agenda, I have been grateful to witness amazing adjustments occurring quite naturally .

So what does this have to do with beating the dinnertime blues? Well, I resolved daily to put my spiritual priorities at the top of my To Do list, using my lunch hour to read and my commute time to pray.

A short time later, I was able to buy a microwave oven, something unthinkable only a few weeks before, by using a special employee discount. About the same time, I was unexpectedly given a crockpot. These two appliances cut dinner preparation and cleanup time way down, and this enabled us to experience more harmony during the precious times we could spend together as a family.

I strive to do at least three things every day: read the scriptures and Mrs. Eddy's works; ask God for guidance; and obediently listen for and act upon that guidance.

The more I consistently do this, the more I humbly feel the presence of God's love and the more I feel at peace in the spiritual home of my thought that's devoted to worshiping the one infinite God. Then I'm more awake to the blessings God is already providing for my home.

Am I suggesting that we pray for crockpots and microwaves? No. Adjustments come when we make it a priority to worship the one God and realize that He provides everything we need.

Acquaint now thyself
with him,
and be at peace.

Job 22:21

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