Have you met the interns yet? They're pretty amazing. The following post is from Natalie Hill, a recent graduate of American University and one of those people that has a knack for nearly every instrument ever invented.
Without fail, I always spent the first week of any college break fighting some sort of illness. During finals week, I would spend countless hours in the library, staying up late and waking up early to write papers and finish presentations and do the readings I had neglected all semester. I’d stress myself out so much because I was stretching myself so thin. I wouldn’t get enough sleep, I wouldn’t eat healthily (if at all), I worked my brain so hard, and I completely filled my schedule with work. By the time I finished my very last exam or sent in my very last paper, my body would start to shut down. And a couple hours later, I’d be in bed with a cold.
I have a feeling I’m not alone in this. And finals week might be an extreme scenario, but I often catch myself stretching myself way too thin, resulting in stress. During this first semester as a campus missionary in training, I’ve been learning that my anxiety levels are pretty high, and my coping strategies are pretty low. There’s a whole new realm of stressors that I face as a full time Chi Alpha intern: schedule management, finances, issues with students, class work. It can be really easy for me to fall into anxiety and become overwhelmed, or even paralyzed, by the mountains in front of me.
But this goes against what we’re told in Scripture. Philippians 4:6 says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Matthew 6:25-33 reminds us that if God provides shelter and provision for a simple sparrow, how much more will He provide for all of our needs? I know I’m not supposed to worry simply because the Bible tells me not to, but sometimes this seems easier said than done.
I’ve been learning that I can’t control what happens around me, but I can choose how I respond to it. Will I absorb the stress or find ways to not let it control me? Will I let myself be overcome with anxiety, or will I remember God’s promise of provision in my life? I think there are practical things we can do to push stress and anxiety out of our lives.
In the midst of my busy schedule, rest is essential. It’s important to find ways to recharge, to do things that are for me. Personally, this might mean spending a day exploring the city or eating good food or writing new music or reading Steinbeck. It means spending time with people who energize me and let me rest when I’m around them. It means putting up boundaries when it comes to spending time with students or thinking about work-related things. And it means observing a Sabbath, a day of resting in God’s presence and refocusing on who He is in my life.
I’ve found that when I give myself time in my schedule to rest, I’m more equipped to be able to do my job well. Rest is our way of recharging with God so we remember that He’s the source of energy speaking and working through us in the first place.