Let Go of Strife & Stress
by Drenda Keesee
When it’s the holiday season it might be easy to feel offended by someone, if so do you ever use familiar fallbacks like reacting with red-hot anger, running off to another room, or giving the oh-so-mature silent treatment? I know I have!
There were times, early in our marriage, when I would be so mad at Gary that I would try all of those. Sometimes, I would even toss and turn in bed at night on purpose just to make it hard for him to get a good night’s sleep!
I know, I’m definitely not perfect.
I made plenty of mistakes early on in our marriage.
But, thankfully, I never…
…stopped seeking God, His love, and His ways—and that’s what helped me move past my mistakes and the offenses that I harbored and into a happier marriage and a happier life.
Of course, life isn’t always easy, but it is possible for you to remain happy when things aren’t so great.
I want to share some of my personal experiences with you and help make it easier for you to hold on to joy when times get tough.
Take Control of Your Thoughts
Did you know that studies show that at least 40% of your happiness is controlled by your thoughts, actions, and behaviors?
That means you have the power and authority to choose what line you’re going to dial, just like a telephone. You can either dial into the line of the enemy—the lies that are running the culture—or you can **dial the line of Jesus and tune into what He has to say.
No matter how much you are in prayer, how often you go to church, or how much time you spend in your small groups or with Christian friends, there will be times when your thoughts seem like they’re shouting. Well, go ahead and shout right back! Pull out Bible verses and shout them out. Speak them into your environment. Better yet, plaster them all over your environment too!
Here are some of my favorite Bible verses for shutting down negative thoughts:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9).
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).
Sometimes you have to tell your mind to be quiet and to listen to the Holy Spirit. And anything that doesn’t line up with God’s Word has to go!
Battle and Conquer Stress the Right Ways
We all react differently when we’re exhausted or stressed. Sometimes, I just pray, “God, our lives have all gotten so complicated! How do I stay focused on the right things when there are so many pressures everywhere around me?”
I know life can be hard. I know it’s easy to lose sight of peace, but that’s why the Bible tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus and pray in the Spirit.
John 14:26 tells us, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
The goal of the enemy is always to make your problems or circumstances look bigger than God, but the Holy Spirit knows exactly how to handle every stressful situation that comes your way!
He will help you see beyond your circumstances and problems, so you can keep your eyes on God’s promises.
While you don’t necessarily get to choose what happens in your day-to-day, you do get to choose your response to things. Do your best to keep an attitude of joy and gratitude, and to keep a godly perspective.
Get joyful! Laugh at things when they go wrong, and refuse to let them get you down!
Communicate with Love
You can’t have true closeness and intimacy in your relationships if you aren’t willing to communicate.
Gary and I have always strived to keep our lines of communication open. But early on in our marriage, it was a struggle at times.
I often say, “There are no perfect relationships … only relationships perfected by God’s grace!”
During those early years, I battled resentment, confusion, and guilt as I tried to balance my role as a wife and new mother, often blaming Gary for circumstances instead of discussing things with him.
What got me through? Choosing to put my happiness in God’s hands. He always came through! Gary wasn’t responsible for making me feel happy. I had to learn to put my faith and hope in God. Then, I was able to communicate with love and serve my husband with an open heart.
The main ingredient for successful communication with others is putting your communication with God first. The health of any relationship will improve when you start going to God first.
And just think—how are you going to communicate the Gospel to others if you can’t get control of your emotions and communicate in a loving way with the people who are around you every day?
Know Who You Are
Once I realized only God could make me whole, and I discovered who I am in Him, I also found my happiness was secure in Him.
**As you look to God, His Word, and to what He says about you, you’ll discover your identity in Him instead of in your performance or your lack of performance.
Colossians 2:8 tells us, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”
You’ll discover that you are loved, accepted, and forgiven. Then, you’ll be empowered to do things not through your own strength, but through Him and His strength.
God will carry you faster and farther than you could ever carry yourself. He’s got dreams for you that are beyond anything you can imagine.
Before I gave my heart to Christ and committed myself to live life His way, I wanted to be a newscaster and a talk show host, among other things. I didn’t lose those things when I sought God first for my life. Instead, God made those big dreams a reality.
I believe God has BIG things in store for you, but when you let strife, stress, or toxic thoughts speak louder than God’s Word, you shortchange yourself and His vision for your life.
Get into God’s presence EVERY day. He has a plan for you, and He knows exactly how to get you there!
I hope this has been a blessing to you. It’s my mission in life to help you live your best life: a life of wholeness, purpose, and happiness. That’s the kind of life God wants you to live.
ps…Are you looking for a good church? Be sure and listen on Saturday evening or catch the 3 services on Sunday for Faith Life Church!
Drenda Keesee’s contagious zeal and humorous personal experiences help make her ministry of spiritual, emotional, and relational wholeness one that will bless your life and spark a new fire in your spirit.
A wife of over 30 years and a mother of five children, Drenda has ministered at churches, seminars, and conferences, and through the mediums of television and radio, for more than 20 years.
Her books, The New Vintage Family, Better Than You Think, and She Gets It are available wherever books are sold. In these heartfelt books, Drenda shares her personal journey and the life lessons that have brought her to where she is today, as well as practical answers that all people need to live a joyful life.
Drenda and her husband Gary founded Faith Life Now, a ministry designed to spread the message of freedom in the areas of finances, faith, marriage, and family. Tune in for their weekly messages here. Faith Life Now hosts conferences worldwide and sponsors both Fixing the Money Thing, which Drenda co-hosts with her husband Gary and Drenda.
Through their own life experiences, the Keesee’s have found the principles from God’s Word to be powerful and effective. At one point, Drenda was a young, suicidal feminist with no hope of ever being “good enough” for her own standards of perfection. She never wanted the “inconvenience” of a husband or children, and she was on her own path to success. But the stress of trying to achieve perfection and perform for love left her broken and used. She had success, but it was nothing compared to the pain and loneliness it had also brought.
That’s when God got a hold of her heart. It was there—at her lowest point—that she found the One who accepted and loved her, faults and all. Since that transformation, Drenda has had a passion to reach women who find themselves where she once was.
She married Gary after attending college, and there she found herself in a personal boot camp of sorts. She says, “I cried and told God, ‘I can do anything but be a wife and mother.’” She committed to learning how to do it God’s way. Through the many years of raising their children and struggling to make ends meet, Drenda learned from their mistakes. “I didn’t know how to be a wife and mother, but God saved our marriage, taught us how to parent our children for success, showed us how to have financial success, and then the irony of all ironies, He called us to ministry.” It’s truly because of these life experiences that Drenda can now share so many insightful principles for people who are now going through the same struggles.