Combating Stress and an Army of Ants

Cinnamon Ants

For some reason every time I’m at a peak point of feeling somewhat stressed, I always seem to encounter an army of ants or insects.  This morning, I woke up and wanted banana pancakes and coffee for breakfast. When I went to the kitchen, I was greeted by an army of ants trying to take over.  Apparently the ant traps tucked away in private corners of my house aren’t quite working.  I thus removed everything from the counters and engaged in a vinegar spray battle trying to kill as many as I could see on site.  I placed a little container of sugar and cinnamon in a corner, as well as sprinkled a line of cinnamon on their trail.  The trail was clearly visible and I could see exactly where they came from (a tiny hole in the wall of my dining room).

A few things from this scenario stuck out at me.  First of all, when I woke up this morning, I was already stressed out.  Why? The realization hit that I will be starting graduate school in exactly one month.  Am I ready for this?  Is this the right decision?  How am I going to afford it?  A million questions were racing in my mind.  Second of all, I was out of coffee (probably something I shouldn’t be drinking everyday anyway, nonetheless when anxious).  Third of all, there is an entire army of ants invading my space when all I wanted was a nice, clean area to make a few fluffy pancakes.

After I calmed down, stole some coffee from my roommate and addressed the ant invasion scenario, I finally had space to do what I originally wanted (make pancakes).  What’s significant about all this is not that I finally got what I wanted in the end, but why did I let myself get so upset in the first place? Often times, situations happen in our lives that we have no control over.  We thus have to problem solve and address what is being presented to us.  Also, waking up with anxiety about what is going or not going to happen a month from now is kind of ridiculous.  I should have woken up over-joyed to be alive and that a sunshine-filled day awaits.  However, the reality is you can’t always feel sunny and sometimes it’s hard to be thankful for the present moment, when a self-created “to-do” list has piled up in your head.  Everything happens in due time and is something I have to constantly remind myself of.

Yesterday, I went kayaking.  It was so much fun and something I hadn’t done in a while.  The sun was blazing, the water was glistening and I was in good company.  As we were out there in the water, we had to decide where to go, when to paddle and when to coast.  The simplicity of spending a nice summer day in the water is actually synonymous to everyday decisions (aka what should I have for breakfast?), as well as bigger life choices (should I spend thousands of dollars of money I don’t have and plunge myself into debt in order to go back to school hoping I’ll be further skilled to serve and that there will be an investment at the end?)  When do you paddle as hard as you can in order to avoid a big ship coming your way and when do you chill out and wade in the water?  In church, we learn that everything has already been taken care of in the name of Jesus, and all we have to do is relax into His arms, into His grace.  That sounds all gravy.. but is that really real life?  Jesus may have opened some doors for me, but I still need to decide whether to walk through them.  Should I be praying for $50,000 of tuition money to magically land in my lap?  Isn’t that selfish?  I have a roof over my head, food on the table, a loving family, friends and a job.  Do I really need more?  No.  Do I want more?  Yes.  And is wanting more okay?  I think so.

Instead of twirling in my head about whether I’m “prepared” to take a plunge, whether I have the practical means to turn ideas into reality, and being a slave to my own self-imposed worries, maybe it’s time to take a deep breath, sprinkle some cinnamon on my troubles, and just wade in the water…

by Kristin Bach
Copyright 2014


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