From Stress To Submission

For more help giving stress over to God, make sure to read our worship devotional on this issue, “Take A Deep Breath.”

I have to confess, I haven’t been so peaceful lately. My stomach is often turning and I feel as though I have no time.

Why does everything have to take so long to accomplish, right? Driving to the grocery store seems like a crazy journey when I hit every red light and get stuck in traffic. What was supposed to be a ten-minute drive turns into twenty… and I need those extra minutes!

Life is tough when you have two in diapers. And life is also difficult when you are trying to break habits, like unhealthy eating. Also, my life is often perplexing as I try to figure out God’s current direction for my ministry. Oh, but that’s a whole other story for a different day!

I find all of my time is spent taking care of either my two-year-old son or my newborn daughter, who has a many medical needs, such as a feeding tube. On top of all that, I am pumping breast milk several times a day for my daughter’s feeding tube, which takes up a lot of time. Errands are extra long now as I not only have one rambunctious little boy to care for but also a baby. We have a lot of doctor’s appointments for our baby Lucy, which requires travel, sometimes three hours round trip, on top of the visits themselves tend to take a while.

Okay, I could literally keep going about all the responsibilities I am currently facing, but I think you get the point. Life is stretched right now, and my response is…

Stress!

It’s unfortunately true. I have a turning in my stomach and pressure in my chest, and I feel like I’m carrying it all the time. I keep wondering why I can’t get enough done and why there isn’t enough time. Why do I not have more energy? Why am I so restrained?

Agh. And it drives me a bit crazy because I want to do more, but I literally can’t. I can’t. There isn’t more time in the day. I can’t create more time to do the laundry or dishes. There’s just not enough time to do everything I need to do – let alone the things I want to do.

So I feel pressure. And stress.

But I also feel something else.

Something small and quiet. Pulling me from the madness.

Of course, I am talking about God.

I feel like he’s saying to me “Alexis, you don’t need to live like this. You don’t need to take all of this on by yourself. You are walking alone and not with me.”

Oh, and it’s true.

I am walking alone, in my own strength, and it sucks. I feel the tension, and I’m on edge. And yet, despite all of that He calls. Even while I feeling the pulling in my chest, I also feel a tugging from God to let go and let Him be my guide.

So the dance begins.

And it is a dance.

It’s an awkward, ” the first week of Dancing with the Stars” kind of dance. And I find myself stumbling over my feet, missing important steps, out of rhythm, and trying to take the lead from God.

God is calling each of us to allow Him to take the lead. For He knows the dance and the floor better than we ever could imagine. But for Him to take the lead, submission needs to happen. I need to release my control.

You know submission is a funny thing, and honestly I kind of hate that word. I think submission has a lot of negative connotations and conjures up images of suppressed people subjected to a life of unjust treatment.

However,  that is not the kind of submission God demands of us. But what is He looking for?

First, let us look at what submitting really means.

Submit means to “accept or yield to a superior force or to the authority or will of another person.”

stress-busting series, Worry, turning to God

And really isn’t that what we all are doing when decide to follow Christ… right? In following Jesus, aren’t we saying that our way of doing things is incomplete or wrong? When we become a disciple of Jesus, are we not declaring that we are following Him now and not ourselves?

Jesus’ ministry was filled with instances of Him submitting to the will of the Father. Likewise, one of Paul’s major theological themes was submission, as you will read in the two passages below.

Galatians 2:20 NIV

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Ephesians 4:20-24

20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Both personally and exhortatively, Paul teaches us that when we follow Jesus we take on Him, not ourselves. We die to our natural way of doing things – our sin-state.

To be a follower of Christ, you must first submit.

So the most basic, essential element of being a Christian falls under this principle of submission. We all agree to it when we first “sign-up.”

Then why is it so difficult? Why do we have such a hard time “letting go and letting God” as the cliché states?

Well, there are a few reasons:

  1. We don’t understand submission.
  2. We want to be in control.
  3. We don’t trust God.
  4. We don’t understand how to let go.

1. We Don’t Understand Submission

I always have a hard time with cliched statements. Nicely packaged words of advice can often be misinterpreted or not fully understood. That’s why I struggle when I hear someone say, “You must submit to God” without any context or expansion of thought.

The equality-minded part of me gets squeamish when I hear statements like that. Again, it’s because submission has a lot of negative connotations, and it is often heavily linked to the subjection of women to the rule and wishes of men. As a result, submission conjures up many negative images and feelings and certainly does not make me like the word.

However, it isn’t the same when we look at the idea of submitting to God. You see, while submission has negative associations, such as the misuse of power, that is not where God is calling us. God isn’t trying to control you when you become submissive to Him.

If God wanted to control us, He would be directly controlling you already, and there would be nothing you could do about it. He doesn’t need our will in order to have us submit to Him. He is the Creator and Sustainer of all, so if He wanted to, He could make us all submit to Him right now.

But He doesn’t. Why is that?

Well, it’s because God wants a relationship with us and He wants us to freely and openly come to Him. Following God is not about rules or regulations, but rather a freedom and real purpose. When we follow God we enter the trajectory of becoming who we were created to be, and that is seeing ourselves as people loved by their Maker.

God offers us a better life because He knows we are not Him and we cannot do all things. We get tired. God doesn’t. We get hopeless, God doesn’t. We get scared. God doesn’t. We don’t know the future. God does.

Stress-busting series, Worry, Turning To God

Since God is stable and we are clearly not, following Him is the only way to true freedom and purpose. Submitting to Him is not about protocol, but rather grace and love.  God knows we are limited and He is not, and that is why He gives us Himself for our strength. We are not alone with our problems.

But being alone with our problems is often where we live. Which brings me to the second point:

2. We Want To Be In Control 

When we walk around carrying our problems and being consumed with them, that makes us the ones who are in control. We are taking matters into our own hands even if we are doing nothing but worrying. Whether we are trying to fix the problem or not, it is all about our heart condition to understand where we are in the matter.

If we are living in turmoil and fear, well, we are walking alone and in control by ourselves. However, if we are living in God’s fruit (Galatians 5:22-23), then we truly are allowing God to be in control.

Allowing God to be in control requires a very expansive theology, one much bigger for this blog post. But to give you a little something to chew on, I would like to say simply that it is all about your inner-self. How you are feeling inside is often an indicator of how much you are allowing God to be in control. 

And allowing God to take charge is difficult because we instinctively want to be in control ourselves. Just take a look at the first humans in Genesis 2 and 3 to see where we get that desire. But even if we know that God should be in control, it is often scary stepping out and relinquishing all that troubles you to an invisible God. Which leads me to our third point

3. We Don’t Fully Trust God

For one reason or another, we have a hard time trusting God. Time and time again, God proves His love and presence with us and in response, we immediately forget. Just check out many of the Old Testament stories to see how God’s people almost always forgot how good and capable God is, regardless of what miracles they witnessed.

Trusting God looks a lot like the famous scene in “Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade.” Check out this clip and see if you can resonate

I have always loved this scene because I think it poignantly depicts how we look at our problems. We come to what we perceive is the end of our issue, only to find that there is another problem and trial to pass through. We stand on one side of a massive pit with the end in sight, but we don’t know how to get there. All the while God is with us, but we can’t see Him or perhaps feel Him. But God tells us to take the step and trust the bridge will be there.

The pressure can all go away in an instant if we can just trust who it is that walks with us.

All of this is incredibly important to the stress we face. When life throws us curveballs, we can choose to walk alone or with God. Both are difficult. Walking alone means you are subject to your inner turmoil and stress. But journeying with God is also difficult because it is a hard and awkward dance, at least at first. Because the more you learn to dance with Him and let Him take the lead, the easier the dance becomes. You become familiarized with His movements and you begin to trust Him as your dance partner. So when the next problem in life comes up, you have already established a rhythm with Him.

But how do you establish that rhythm?

Well, this brings us to the fourth and last point:

4. We Don’t Know How To Let Go And Give Our Stress Over To God

Oh… this is another broad, massive principle – far too big for a single post. But it is essential for being able to relate your pressure to God. I wrote a formula a while back that I believe is key to helping you learn how to give something over to God.

  1. Acknowledge the problem to God.
  2. Thank God for opening your eyes to the problem.
  3. Resist the urge to feel shame, embarrassment and/or impatience to resolve it.
  4. Return to God with the problem and ask Him to take it from you. Dialogue with Him about what’s stirring in your heart and ask for help.
  5. Leave the problem with God.
  6. Rest in the goodness, mercy, and love of God that He will handle your problem.
  7. When you inevitably pick your problem up again, simply return to God and give it back over. Do not beat yourself up, this is the process of letting something go. You will pick it up again and again and lay it down again and again.
  8. Be open to how God leads you in the process of letting go of your problem.

These 8 steps are a great entry point for learning to give your stress over to God. But first, let me assure you that you will fail in the beginning. We all do. The point is not the failure, the point is to repeat. For we can’t run to God enough, can we? God knows our limitations better than we do and knows we can’t even handle giving something over to Him. That’s why all He wants us to do is to turn to Him and He will lead us.

So, with all of this said, I have to bring this discussion back to me and my current life situation

Because for me, I guess it all comes down to who I have more trust in, myself or God?

I believe I trust God more than myself but do my actions or my inner thoughts and feelings reflect that? Well not really, but I have hope.

It’s time to pull out my dance shoes and let my Partner take the lead.

I hope you will too!

Below are some reflection questions & additional resources. We like to give you things to take, not just food for thought. We want to help you put principles into action.

Reflection Questions

  1. How do you react when you hear the word submission? Is it positive or negative?
  2. How is being submissive to God different than being submissive to humans?
  3. Why do you think God calls us to submit to Him?

Additional Resources

We have a podcast about this article that you can find here: “Sitting In Stress”

We also have a devotional based on the worship song “Breathe” by Jonny Diaz  “Take A Deep Breath,”  that is a great devo for stress-busting.

And if it’s just prayer you need, we have you covered too, here are “30 Prayers For Anxiety.

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If this article helped you, would you please share, in doing you can help us make a more significant impact for the Kingdom of Heaven. Thank you so much! ~Alexis & Aaron

Stress-Buster Series, Worry, Turning To God

Alexis Waid

Alexis Waid

Alexis is a wife, mother, theologian, speaker and spiritual director.
Alexis Waid

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How do you move from stress to letting God take control? In this article, we discuss the hiccups that get in our way for releasing our stress to God and give you 8 practical steps to give your stress over to God.