Do I laugh or cry when I read statements such as, “The stress response is the body’s way of protecting you. When working properly, it helps you stay focused, energetic, and alert. In emergency situations, stress can save your life – giving you extra strength to defend yourself, for example, or spurring you to slam on the brakes to avoid an accident”. (http://www.helpguide.org/mental/stress_signs.htm, accessed 1/14/10)
Personally, I’ve always viewed stress as a detriment. Admittedly, the Helpguide article did also state that too much stress is harmful, weakening the body. But, life experiences are teaching me not to manage stress, or let it manage me, but to be managed by God.
I remember twenty years ago, almost to the month, my stress level was throwing a tantrum. My husband and I had decided to quit our jobs and move. Our decision met with disapproval from family members. At first they were shocked at our boldness for wanting to leave what looked like a secure job, and do something that seemed, well, they didn’t know what, but it didn’t fit their paradigm of what they thought was proper and so it was disapproved of.
The disapproval was not helpful. And, just before Christmas, a tiny pain in my ear escalated during the day to the point of agony. By evening my prayers were not keeping up with the demand for improvement and so I called a Christian Science practitioner for mental treatment. Soon after the call, it was as though a small pump started in my ear and puss began draining out. It was an enormous reprieve, albeit disgusting.
I went from hearing an earsplitting ache to a quiet relief. For the next few days, and nights, I lay on the sofa with my head slightly upright. I was wiped out. The stress and health problem seemed to do me in. It was almost as though we would be forced not to make a bold move.
I asked my husband to please take the children over to our relative’s house for Christmas celebration. He did. And, there I was. Alone. Thinking about the birth of Christ Jesus.
Of the most spectacular Christmas’s that stand out to me over the last 40 years, this is one of them. An indescribable beautiful peace was there in the house with me.
After Christmas, my husband took me to a doctor to get a diagnosis. The doctor peered into my ear with a gadget and told me not to get my hopes up about my hearing returning. He also acknowledged my recuperation was heading in the right direction. The doctor guessed the problem was Strep and tests later confirmed his prognosis.
Back home, I considered a new view of ears. From the modern version of Science and Health, first written by Mary Baker Eddy, “Ears. Not organs of the purported bodily perceptions, but spiritual understanding.”
It is commonplace to believe ears are organs that provide hearing. But, this view of ears as spiritual understanding shakes that conviction. My new conviction was: Hearing is not in the ear, but in spiritual understanding. My reasoning asked, Did I have any other evidence to coincide with this new conviction?
I knew a person who couldn’t hear in one ear. She had her ear diagnosed and physicians could find nothing wrong with her ear.
I’ve met people who profess to be deaf. But it is a selective deafness; funny how they can hear the sports station on TV just fine but not hear their wife ask them to put gas in her car.
I’ve also met people who can’t hear because of the malfunctioning ear organ. But, the deafness compelled the people to develop other senses that cause them to hear better than people with functioning ears.
All these facts were interesting, but my reasoning needed light.
One Sunday, in church, we sang “Feed My Sheep” by Eddy.
“Shepherd, show me how to go
O’er the hillside steep,
How to gather, how to sow,
How to feed Thy sheep;
I will listen for Thy voice,
Lest my footsteps stray;
I will follow and rejoice
All the rugged way.
And, the light bulb went off. My spiritual understanding was never invaded by Strep, nor was it damaged. God provides my spiritual understanding. God leads my understanding. Human opinions derived from mortal history or humanly organized correctness can’t lead me astray.
My husband and I continued with our move. We found other jobs and now over 20 years later. have never once had a regret.
Within a few months after that Christmas long ago, I had felt as though I had taken my ear back. The mental conviction that God is in charge resulted in restored hearing. I can hear dogs bark that are miles away. It drives my husband nuts.
Anything that comes and goes, whether it be stress or strep, human approval or disapproval, does not have the power to take away what God has given us. Spiritual understanding leading us the whole way.