Somewhere in what feels like a lifetime ago, when I was a corporate ladder climber (LOL), I remember someone saying, “If things are bad on the job, then make sure things are good at home, and vice versa, but it is not good if neither home or work are going well the same time.” Pretty good advice, but I quickly learned that I am limited in my control of either and both. Life brings about ups and downs that are often beyond my doing.
Yet I get the overall understanding, we all need somewhere to find peace. However, in a lot of relationships it is hard to separate the two places where most of our lives are lived out. Seems to me that the stresses from work tend to jump in our briefcase and head home with us – uninvited. Likewise, if a person stays up arguing with their spouse at night, it is coming to work in their attitude the next day. So here are a few ways to help when your two worlds are colliding:
1. Personal Relationship with Christ. This is number one on purpose. John 14:27 helps us to begin to understand that Jesus died to send us the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Christ and with Him the embodiment of the peace of Christ. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
The apostle Paul reinforces the teaching of Christ in I Cor. 1:22-25 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
Our personal relationship with Christ is our source of wisdom, power, insight, stress relief and ultimate burden reliever – in this world. So much different than attending church. The ability to communicate and fellowship with God is such an amazing distinction of our Christian walk. It is where we find perspective for what stresses us. So to find peace in the chaos that can sometimes be our high stress jobs and even higher stress marriages. Tend to yourself by continuing, daily, to submit and recommit to Christ.
2. Talk about it. As you take inventory of your relationship with Christ, pay particular attention to what causes you to be stressed. A boss, financial pressure, health, kids, or all of the above plus some…Be aware of the areas of stress rising in your life and then tell your spouse! Establish the ability, in your marriage, to be honest with each other – “I am a little stressed at work right now, I am under some tight deadlines and you know how my boss can be. So I am a little stressed out, so bear with me…”. That gains us a friend instead of turning our spouse into an enemy and our house into a war zone. Be proactive – talk about it.
3. Set work boundaries. At times we have to stay late, we have to bring work home – every once in a while. But where you can, make it a priority to set boundaries for how many hours of work to cram into a day. For sure, it is a delicate balance. We need to work to support our family yet too much work can absolutely crush the romance, structure and balance of our family.
4. Realize God placed you on your job. Part of setting boundaries might be having a talk with your boss (be careful – use wisdom – don’t get fired). I am reminded of Nehemiah in Neh 1&2. He was a servant of the king. His job was to taste the wine for the king to make sure the wine was not poisoned. Now, how bad is your job? LOL. Yet, this little regarded “employee” of the king was positioned to do the work of God, as God used him to change the king’s mind about rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. It just might shift the stress by seeing your job as the spiritual work of The Lord and not solely as a servant of the “king” of your company.
When the king took note of Nehemiah’s disposition he asked how he could help him. What an amazing role reversal. The powerful king, becomes the servant of his own servant, Nehemiah, as Nehemiah focusses on serving God. Serve God on and through your jobs and allow for God to get the glory.
Of course there is no guarantee that stress won’t still be present in your life. I guess it is more correct to say that stress will continue to be present as long as we are alive. But in Christ we can not just manage stress, but we can find the strength of Christ to live an abundant life in Christ.