The “If It Weren’t for the Stress” Fallacy

Does this sound familiar:  “Once the stress dies down, I’ll start eating right.”

Women say this during the holiday season, during the beginning of the school year, when there are tensions within the family, during tax time, and anytime they are experiencing stress, which is…always.

Stress is not what makes you eat. Stress is just a trigger that leads to your way of coping by turning to food. And, sorry to say, the trigger (or some other trigger) will always, always be there.

So the solution is not to eliminate the stress, because that’s a game of whack-a-mole—quash one stressor and another pops right up. And the solution is not to eliminate the food so you won’t be tempted to run to it whenever the stress level rises. The solution is to change your response to the stress. And, thank God, He has provided us with an alternative response whenever we face any uncomfortable emotions, such as stress, or uncomfortable circumstances, such as holidays with your less-than-favorite people.

When the trigger is pulled, when that stress rises up in your throat and you feel you just have to feed it to make it calm down, pause for just a second and do what God’s people have done throughout the ages—turn to God with honesty and pour out your heart to Him about everything you feel and think, lay yourself bare before Him, complain to Him, wail to Him, even tear your clothes.

But that’s not all. Then allow God to minister to you, to speak to you personally about the truth. He says he’ll guide you into truth, and He will. (See John 16:13.) And His truth will set you free—not from the circumstances, but from the intense feelings of stress.

If you need a little help getting started in this new approach to responding to stress, here’s a handout that may help: Emotional Intimacy with God.

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