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by Alexus Jones

Hello, friends,

At iMPACT this past Sunday night, Josh addressed the subject of stress. It was the very message I’d needed to hear. I hadn’t realized it at the moment, but I was about to have a very stressful week. It’s been so stressful, in fact, that I am writing this blog post a day late because of my complete lack of time. I am now attempting to squeeze in a few words between school and work, so I apologize for my lack of eloquence.

In my time on Earth, I have found that God has a way of changing the way you think before changing your circumstances.  I like this … but, I also hate this. There are times when I pray for something, and frankly, I don’t want a life lesson before I get it.

My prayer as of late has been a simple cry of, “Lord, help me get through it all!” More than anything, I honestly just want to be done. I want to be done with college applications. I want to be done with school. I never want to look work in the face again. I want to fast forward through this last, awkward year before I embark on my collegiate endeavors in Chicago.

Unfortunately, God seems to value life experience too much to adhere to my childish whims. And so I’ve marched on. As I came to this week, I had the sudden realization that my Priority Deadlines for college applications are November 1st – next Friday. This means that I have to write and perfect four college essays in less than seven days, while also balancing the rest of my life.

Stress.

Bits and pieces Josh’s message from Sunday night have been running through my head all week. He described two kinds of people – the “skeptics” and the “expectants.”  The skeptics are those “the-glass-is-half-empty” kinds of people, while the expectants are just the opposite. Each deals with stress differently. I, along with 80 percent of my fellow humans, am a skeptic, through and through. When a stressful situation comes about, I immediately turn into a negative, irritable wallow-er in self-pity. I don’t always show this, but my thoughts generally reflect this sort of attitude: Everything sucks. My life is ruined. Wah wah wah.

As you can probably imagine, this isn’t a particularly healthy way of living my life. Josh offered a new perspective. He pointed out that you could take a skeptic and an expectant, place them in the same exact scenario, and each would react completely differently from the other simply because of their focus. Too often, we focus on the negative, and this affects every aspect of our lives. As much as I sometimes wish I could, curling up in a ball in a corner every time I experience some sort of stress probably wouldn’t be terribly productive, as 7/8 of my time would be spent in the fetal position.

I am finding that my prayers have changed form “Lord, change my circumstances,” to, “Lord, change the way I see my circumstances.” God changes our lives through our actions and reactions – our minds.

“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.

There is always a brighter side. Do not worry.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:25 – 34.

Alexus Jones is a senior at Lakes Community High School. She plays in the high school youth group worship band and works backstage on Sunday mornings at Immanuel Church. She is a singer/songwriter who desires to glorify God with the abilities that He’s entrusted to her.

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