Thursday, September 02, 2010

Season of Stress

At this moment, my life is undergoing a season of stress, fostered mainly by change and added burdens. It’s not that any one of the changes or new burdens is, of itself, negative. It’s just that a number of these things have all hit at once. I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed.

I am gearing up to run a tri-district Boy Scout camporee in two weeks. This is the fifth year that I have run our fall camporee. I have a love-hate relationship with these events. Work begins on the event in early spring. While I try to cover my bases well, many factors are simply beyond my control. That drives me nuts.

One year, there was an autumn deluge the day camporee began. Only 12 of 66 units in the district showed up. Some that came had a miserable night. It snowed on us overnight. But many of the attendees still had fun. You can argue that it shouldn’t be so, but many Scout leaders are fair weather campers. If the weather is bad, they just don’t camp.

Last year we had spectacular weather, but we still had low attendance. Due to the way the Scout council scheduled certain events, we were forced to hold our camporee the weekend after Labor Day. Many people use that weekend to get caught up on the chores they missed while celebrating the holiday weekend.

Sometimes those that are assigned to fulfill tasks at the event fall through. Some things just don’t happen, despite my best efforts to make sure that everyone is ready to do their assigned jobs. Scouting is, after all, a volunteer organization.

The last few weeks before the event are very busy. I’m fielding calls from Scout leaders, trying to make sure that all tasks will be properly handled, getting all of the stuff needed for the event gathered and ready to haul up there, and trying to take care of my own family matters as well. It’s a crazy time.

This year matters have been complicated somewhat by the fact that I have just been called to fill two new church positions, one at the ward level and one at the stake level. I continue to hold a formal stake/ward calling from which I will be released within a couple of weeks. In the meantime, I’ve still got to do that calling during this extremely busy season. I hold yet an informal ward calling as well.

I get a lot of fulfillment from my church service. But I’m feeling besieged right now.

Due to reductions and reassignments at work, I have been handed several new assignments in recent days. These are in addition to the assignments I have been doing. I am tasked with doing the work previously done by four people. (For no additional pay, of course.) All of these new assignments require quickly coming up to speed on technologies in which I have little or no expertise.

I appreciate my boss’ confidence in me and I enjoy the opportunity to learn other technologies. But the timing makes it feel like someone jumping on the dog pile of which I am at the bottom. On top of this is the gnawing worry that my employment might be affected by the same kind of reductions that have impacted some of my colleagues.

We all go through seasons of stress in our lives. Some are short lived. I know, for example, that some of the factors contributing to my present burdens will pass within three weeks. Other times we have to endure for longer periods of months or even years.

Effectively dealing with stress is important. Health professionals warn that a “high level of stress puts you at increased risk of serious health consequences” (see Mayo Clinic site). Mayo notes that even ‘good’ stressors can have negative health impacts.

Years ago I went through a period of high stress. Over the space of less than two years, I married, changed jobs (a great promotion), moved three times, built a new home, got two new cars, gained a bunch of weight, worked hard to lose even more weight, dealt with my wife’s job opportunities and challenges, accepted several church callings, accepted a district level Scouting assignment, and on and on.

Most of these factors were good things. But my system rebelled against all of this stress. I later realized that I had experienced a number of relatively mild Multiple Sclerosis symptoms for several years. After adding all of these stressors in a short period of time, however, I ended up experiencing a major MS attack that landed me in the hospital for a week and a half, and kept me out of work for weeks. Since I didn’t reduce the stress voluntarily, my system found a way to force the matter.

As a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, I know that I can turn to Him to relieve my burdens. I know that as I turn to Him, He will take my burdens in His own way and time, according to that which He knows omnisciently and with perfect love to be best for me. But that path takes faith. It takes going out on a limb, so to speak, and doing it His way — a way that can sometimes be uncomfortable.

It all comes down to this one question: how much do I trust God?

1 comment:

Bradley Ross said...

Wow. Sounds like a crazy few weeks ahead. Good luck keeping all the balls in the air!