Stream of Consciouness on Stress and Grace

I am sitting in my office, and I hear the heater, and I feel stress: to wrap up this semester, to plan and prepare for the new history class I will be teaching, to keep up with my reading of scriptures, of trying to be a good husband, of trying to be a good dad, of trying. And then, in the midst of this stress and striving, this image comes to me: the crucified Christ. In this image, all striving ceases and I know that God is at work in a way that I cannot comprehend, but that I am called to bear witness to, and I sense that I should stand before this image and allow it to shape who I am, because it is saying that God has me in a profound way, and that genuine life will happen if I live from this place.

I need to get my grade book in order. I wonder if I can look at all the legitimate responsibilities hanging over me, that rage at me like the waves and winds of a storm, and if, like Christ, I can look at them and say, “Peace! Be still” and calm them. The deal is, the biggest struggle in not my circumstances, but my immature character, my lack of discipline, and my raging emotional life. I have this nagging feeling that I am constantly living with the water up to my neck, and consequently, I have a deep desire to distract myself with whatever I can get a hold of. There must be some kind of lie spinning in my head. Cause, I can see how I am undermining myself, and sapping my energy through so much worry and stress. How not like a child I am, and yet how childish.

6 Responses to “Stream of Consciouness on Stress and Grace”

  1. Roger Green  

    I’ll be writing on it further in relationship to a book on Christianity I’m reading, but faith can trump worry. (I also find it highly overrated in that it changes nothing, except maybe one’s blood pressure.) Don’t want to go all hakuna matata on you (or Bobby McFerrin, for that matter), but there is wisdom there.
    The other quick thought is that maybe your so-called immature nature is telling you to Do Less. Maybe you need room to play, to goof off, to spend an hour frittering away the time. I’ll make the argument that it may not be as unconstructive as you think, only unfocused.

  2. Anthony Velez  

    Roger – On some level I get that faith trumps worry. I mean, this idea is straight from the Sermon on the Mount. However, it is one thing to know this and another thing to genuinely know this. It is only 18 inches from the head to the heart, but it is a damn long journey.

  3. K.L.B.  

    Hear the words of the LORD.

    “Chill out, will ya’!? You’re too worried about too many things. But really, there’s only one important thing, one thing that ya’ REALLY need.”

    Okay… so I didn’t wave a censerful of incense and wave my hands in a slowly rhythmic motion while wearing a nice gown, or say something like, “Thou art the Thee that Thou art in Thine thisness…” in some monotonously booming voice.

    Perhaps though, you’ll recognize the words. They’re in your heart already, if you know the scriptures and Him. (Luke 10:41,2)

    It sounds kinda’ like you’re beating up on yourself. Next time I see you, I’ll remember to bring my boxing gloves and smack the crap outta’ ya’! I mean, I might as well, what with that “please kick me” sign written all over you!

    Stop doing that, for goodness sake! (Or I REALLY may slap you a wake up call!)

    “Deliver us from evil…” is part of what we term “the LORD’s prayer.” What we don’t know is everything else He prayed. But He did. We know He did, because it’s recorded that He did. That prayer is also a model for our own praying, as I’m certain you already know.

    Sometimes though, we need deliverance from ourselves.

    When I pray, I just talk out loud. Yeah, sometimes I cry (literally) and whine, moan, groan, bitch, complain, and give thanks. And when I start talking it out loud, I eventually find myself giving thanks. And then, I start crying again, because I was so selfish for griping.

    And sometimes, I have screamed and yelled at God. Oh yeah… He can take it. Hey, I figure if Jacob can wrestle with Him and get a hold on Him so that He can’t let go, so can I!

    You know, just the other day, I got a letter that, interestingly enough, I already knew about because it was showed to me in my daily activities, i.e., He showed the content to me. Yeah… no kidding! God does work in ways beyond our comprehension.

    And so, as I read the letter, I recollected that He had spoken into my life in my actions and had so revealed to me the thing which was only demonstrated to my senses as I looked at the piece of paper which was the letter.

    And then later, I recollected how He as worked in my life – how He “has brought me safe thus far.” I recollected that God speaks through us. We are His mouthpieces. We speak His truth into each others’ lives. I mean, if we were to shut up, those hills over yonder (Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Sequoia, Inyo, and Sierra National Forests, etc.) would cry out!

    I recollected that many others, early in the outset of my re-education had asked me if I was going into a particular specialty of practice. I jokingly said “no.” But, my career trajectory as a student started out that way, and it has demonstrated itself in its infancy how He wants me to go. That is why, I believe, that in some sense, I have been dissatisfied with my young career. I have not followed where He has led.

    But, I have followed Him out here, thousands of miles away from my home. And so, as I have prayed, “here am I, O LORD, send me,” He has, and I is here (or is it, “here I is”?).

    And God is the only one that can make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. We certainly can’t. And in His mercy and grace, He teaches us how to make lemonade from the lemons we’ve grown in our lives.

    The long and short of it is this: “it is grace that will lead me home.”

    He is showing me “just enough” of His vision, of His directive for my life. I mean, if He was to show me the whole program from beginning to end, I couldn’t handle it! So, He doles it out, piece by piece. Perhaps I’m the only one with whom He does that… naaah, I don’t think so!

    “Now unto Him Who, in exercise of His power that is at work within us, is able to carry out His purpose and do exceedingly, super abundantly and infinitely far over, above and beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, wildest dreams, and all that we ask, think or pray…”
    – Ephesians 3:20

  4. Anthony Velez  

    Kevin – Let me put a frame on this post. It is a mildly edited stream of consciousness, which is to say that it didn’t give the whole picture regarding my self concept or attitude about myself. Rather, the post expressed my thoughts only at that moment. Along with this, the part about the crucified Christ and God acting in a way that I cannot understand, was not an expression of frustration but hope. The idea is that beyond how I feel about myself, whether good or bad, regardless of my circumstances, God has me in a way so intimate that it is beyond my ability to parse. Sure, I finished on a note about my childishness, which is somewhat negative, but it’s true, I can be childish. Having said this, I don’t think that this facet of my personality is the sum total of who I am, which is to say that I don’t go around living under a funk of self loathing and condemnation.

    So, no need for the boxing gloves.

  5. K.L.B.  


    Glad you clarified that! You had me concerned there for a moment!

    It seems – excerpting what I trust is the heart of your response: “God has me in a way so intimate that it is beyond my ability to parse” – that in some way, we have said the same thing.

    I too wrote that “He is showing me “just enough” of His vision, of His directive for my life.”

    Although, it does seem that the inherent weakness of these feeble, crippled words we use to express ourselves, our hearts, our thoughts, our souls and spirits, was wholly inadequate to fully express the inexpressible.

    But then again, if you have a pair of boxing gloves… I sometimes need a whack!

    Metaphorically speaking (in musical terms), the Picardy Third can enhance an expression!


  6. Paula  

    I think that feeling of “water up to your neck”, is part of our crazy hectic culture and the reason we, western Christians, especially, need to struggle with the discipline of simplicity.