What winds you up?

  • Scissors in the wrong drawer?
  • Endless questions while packing for a trip?
  • Being the parent of the world’s smartest, knows everything teenager?
  • People with no boundaries?
  • Dealing with Bridezilla?
  • Other: (Oh, please, do share!)

Whatever it is that gets you wound as tight as Jack inside his musical box, I’ll bet when someone confronts you about the issue, it goes something like this:

“Gosh, Sweetie, you look a little stressed.  Anything I can do to help?



No…  .

Everything’s great.


“Sure I’m sure.  Don’t you worry about me.  Everything’s fine…”

Then, like that scene in the parking lot in  Fried Green Tomatoes something sets you off and, “Pop! Goes your weasel…”An intense anger wells up from somewhere deep within and your eyes rim with tears—or worse. You are not fine, and the stress fractures are beginning to show.

I recall an incident like that involving a sprinkler head.  Bill had been out to sea for about a week of a three month deployment, and I needed to water the plants.  When I finally found the hose—no, it was not where it was supposed be—an oscillating sprinkler head was fastened to it that would not budge. A verbal tirade ensued with a throw down of the sprinkler and stomp to the house for a pair of pliers. I eventually found the pliers—they too were in the wrong place–but overworked the connection, broke off the sprinkler head, and ended up with a hose that spewed water in every direction possible. I flopped down on the grass and kicked my feet like a little girl. I was definitely not alright and everything was definitely not under control. Then again, when is it ever, anyway?

Whatever is causing you stress may be completely different and unrelated to sprinkler heads, but trying to pretend everything is fine and continually stuffing your frustration is not healthy. We all crack, hit the wall, feel the last straw fall, or whatever you want to call it from time to time—and  that’s okay.  It’s a whole lot better to throw a three minute hissy-fit than to “keep calm and carry on” until your stomach bleeds. That kind of stoic heroism has its place, but is primarily reserved for cluster bombings. Let the tears flow, maybe even yell a little. Just don’t let the meltdown last more than three minutes. A good cry now and again is healthy, wallowing in self-pity is not.

Equally unhealthy is automatically hitting favorites on the phone and sharing your problems with someone who knows you well, rather than talking to God about what’s bothering you first. While it is true the Lord uses others to counsel and comfort us, they cannot give what He can.

Look up and pray. Prayer is simply talking to God, praising Him for who is, thanking Him for all He has done, is doing, and will do and then asking Him to help you sort out the things that are bothering you. And when you pray, do not hold anything back. If you are mad at God, tell Him that too—He’s big enough to take it.

After you have covered every detail, keep going. Tell Him how you can’t stand feeling like this and how you don’t want life to be this way. Ask Him to help you, forgive you and, by the power of His Holy Spirit, search your heart and reveal what’s really wrong. Then be still and listen to what He has to say.  He will not only show you the problem, but He will also help you overcome it and give you peace of mind.

When anxiety replaces trust in God and we begin grasping for control, we end up in a pressure cooker of self-reliance where we lose our joy and are unable to experience the abundant life Jesus came to give us. It’s only when we relax our grip on life’s problems and begin trusting God that our hand is available for Him to hold.

Let off some steam. Go to God in prayer.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition,

with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,

will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

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Penny L. Hunt

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