Live Without Stress: 30 Days to Finding Christ’s Peace for Your Soul by Shelley Hitz
Most of us who experience stress in our lives already know that it is dangerous to our minds, our spirits and our bodies. But most of the time, we are too busy to set aside time to de-stress, unwind, and disentangle ourselves from our extremely busy schedules…that is, until something happens to drive us over the edge and we crash and burn. Wouldn’t it be better to head off a crisis? But how do we plan ahead? This book shows us a way that only takes a few moments at a time each day. Many talk about choices like eating well, sleeping enough, and getting some exercise. That’s good for the body and helps keep our minds alert. But what do we do for our spirit? Well, first of all, it is important that we understand that taking care of our spirit is as important as taking care of our minds and our bodies.
The Bible teaches us: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) How do we guard our hearts? One way is to gain control of our thoughts. I know, our western culture today gives us the impression that our thoughts are our thoughts…we can’t really control them. And whose business is it anyway what we think? Years ago I read this Bible verse that changed that worldly mindset for me and gave me a new direction: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). I realized that God doesn’t ask us to do something that can’t be done. Jesus gave us authority to defeat invading and divisive thoughts, the attacks of the enemy. “I have given you authority to…overcome all the
power of the enemy; nothing will harm you” (Luke 10:19).
Stress and anxiety are destructive bedfellows. The Scripture gives us tools to help us fight anxiety and stress. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). Those tools are prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving. The result is peace of mind, the opposite of stress and anxiety. Who wouldn’t like to experience peace of mind?
So how do we capture our thoughts? Two things come to mind. First, prevention. By rejecting stressful events, thoughts, and exposure to sin, we can prevent some thoughts that add to our stress. “Finally, brothers, 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). Second, whenever negative, destructive and stressful thoughts get through to you, reject them. Don’t dwell on them, but cast them out of your mind and replace them with positive, truthful, life building thoughts. Be deliberate and purposeful about your thought life. It takes practice and work. But it can be done.
That’s exactly what Shelley Hitz’s book, “Live Without Stress” does. It implements all the tools I mention above and helps the reader focus our thoughts in the direction that prevents or battles stress and anxiety. I call this book a guided exercise or devotional. There are 30 days of devotions, each with Bible verses and positive statements on how to view ourselves through God’s eyes. There are suggested positive statements that replace negative statements we commonly say to ourselves without even realizing it. They give us direction and aid us in moving away from the flotsam and jetsam of random defeating attacks and forward to thoughts that help us achieve our daily goals. [For example: “I trust God with the things I cannot control”…”I accept that trials are an inevitable part of my life and I let go of the idea that life in this world will ever be perfect.”] Each day we are directed toward prayer and thankfulness, the tools God gives to us to fight off stress and anxiety.
Each day’s segment is short and only takes a few moments to complete; at the conclusion of each devotion are a few questions. They help direct our thoughts toward putting into practice the principles focused on for the day and keep our minds centered on Christ. To make stressful thinking history for us, we need the 30 days to practice, to establish this way of thinking as a habit that will accompany us all the rest of our days. If you’re anything like me, you may have to follow this guided activity from beginning to end periodically. But this interactive course is general enough that repeating it a few times is not only possible but life changing.
I wish I could have had access to this book years ago, especially in the early years of my struggle with bipolar disorder. I’ve just recently gone through the course and love everything about it. When I was young, people used to call this type of attitude “Pollyanna” thinking–or “pie in the sky by and by.” People would ridicule thinking this way as avoiding reality or just plain being naive. This course doesn’t just lead us into positive thinking but into Godly thinking. And God’s ways work. I highly recommend this book as an effective way to deal with stress.
A complimentary review copy was provided to me by the author and Body and Soul Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.