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Too Blessed to be StressedSeptember 21, 2015
One day, I drove past a small country church, and noticed their sign: "Too blessed to be stressed". The phrase stuck with me and comes in handy whenever a stressful situation arises. We recently endured the long flight from Rarotonga to LAX, without sleeping a wink. I watched four movies. Sounds good, you might think, but my aging bones find it hard to sit cramped in one position for nearly ten hours. Yes I drank water and walked around. Still. Then the plane landed in a construction site so far from the actual airport it took twenty minutes in a bus to get to the terminal. We had a very tight connection, with our next flight taking off in less than a half hour. My stress level was rising as the time ticked by to make the connecting flight. We raced at least two miles from one end of the airport to the other, and my mama version of running hurt my hips. Then we had to stand in another long security line, remove a layer of clothes, and as usual I got searched, for what I'm not sure. All this meant we might miss the flight, and I was so exhausted, I just wanted to get there! So, my stress and fuss level was rising fast.
Suddenly I thought, "Linda, in the great scheme of life, this doesn't matter. Remember how blessed you are and stop stressing." So I did. I calmed down, thanking God for the fact that we were healthy enough to make the trip, and that we would soon be in the arms of family. I remembered the virtue of Serenity, which is the ability to accept the things we cannot change with good grace, and to be the calm in the wind when chaos or unexpected problems occur. I said a little prayer, "Lord, if it is Your will to catch this plane, then we will. If not, I can wait." The virtue of Steadfastness also came to mind – the ability to accept whatever comes and keep on keeping on. As the Virtues Card says, "We are like a strong ship in a storm. We don't allow ourselves to be battered or blown off course. We hold on and ride the waves." Steadfastness was a virtue of the early navigators who discovered Aitutaki and the other Cook Islands. They had only the stars and ocean currents to guide them and found themselves in the midst of a violent storm. They prayed to Tangaroa, god of the sea and Rangi, god of the sky. They called on the virtues of Steadfastness, Trust, Endurance and well-honed Excellence as navigators. The name Aitutaki means "guided by the hands of the gods". They made it safely to these shores.
Back to my minor but upsetting tribulation at LAX. I'm deeply grateful for the teachable moments that arise in daily life. They remind me of what matters and what doesn't. They help me to stop rushing, to reel myself back in from needless anxiety, which never helps. And yes, we caught the plane. For me, it was a small but meaningful victory to catch myself starting a potential melt down and come back to the virtues, the fruits of the spirit, which are all that really matter in this life – Patience, Love, Faith, Hope, Compassion. As author Steven Covey says, "Between the stimulus and the response, there is always choice." When trouble arises, the best way to navigate it successfully is to stop, think, pray and call on a virtue. In the currents of life, we are truly too blessed to be stressed.