Pros of Pressure

                What would you do if you won the lottery?  I’ve heard people say that they would quit their jobs and just live the good life: sleep in; go on one vacation after another; eat, drink, and be merry.  I wonder if it would ever get old?  I wonder if all that freedom from responsibilities and pressures would breed any emptiness or purposelessness?

                Each year, no matter how great our summer vacation was, I welcome the routine of a new school year.  Summer is filled with late breakfasts, leisure mornings, vacations, and generally speaking, the pace is a relaxed one.  If there are teenagers in the house that translates to sleeping in till 11:00, skipping breakfast and going straight for lunch, and alternating between laying by the pool and laying in front of the T.V.

                I exercised the other morning and realized that I haven’t stepped on my treadmill since school was in session three months ago. You’d think with the more relaxed pace I would have been even more diligent and consistent with my work out routine.  Not so.  I could blame it on the kids – all the running around and having to feed them so frequently.  But the truth is, I slept in plenty, skipped a few breakfasts myself, and enjoyed the leisure of not having to be anywhere at any particular time.

                The kids are back at school, which means my husband and I are able to actually have a complete conversation for the first time in two and a half months.  And though I am enjoying the quiet house, I feel like I’m in some sort of boot camp.  Early mornings, rigid schedules, never-ending forms to fill out, responsibilities galore.  It’s not an easy adjustment, but something about it feels right.  Because while good for a season, I have found that this sort of smooth-sailing, loosy-goosy way of living doesn’t produce the disciplined, balanced, healthy lifestyle I desire.  The external pressures of having to set the alarm clock, pack lunches, shower early, plan out meals, make coffee dates with friends, etc… means I am more intentional about making healthier choices. Truth is, I need this kind of structure. 

                And these aren’t the only kinds of external pressures I find beneficial.  Stress on the outside seems to bring out stuff on the inside that needs to be addressed. Challenges show me where I need to grow.  Experiences that push me out of my comfort zone give me opportunities to confront my fears so I can live in increasing freedom.  I need limitations so I can live in greater dependence on God, and it’s in moments of loneliness that I fully experience that God is with me.  God knows me.  And He loves me.

                Hebrews 12:11 “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”