[notice]A fortnightly column on marriage, family and relationships.[/notice]
“I feel under pressure! I feel so under pressure”
How many times have we heard these words from others and how many times have we felt the same way? So many people feel stress and feel anxious because of internal or external pressures they put on themselves and others.
In this fast paced world that we live in it seems that so many people feel under pressure to be all; have it all and know it all. It used to be when you hear the term “peer pressure” you thought of teenagers who feel under pressure because of what their peers expect from them but, these days, adults feel under pressure as well. The pressure might not be vocal or as obvious as with teens but it is there. Married couples especially are put under a lot of pressure: When are you going to have children? When are you going to stop renting and buy your own house? When are you going to have a car — get a job — going to get a better job — put the kids in good schools? And the list goes on. These expectations, at times, do not come from others; they come from within. ExpectationS of where you thought you would be in life at your age. Unachieved dreams that keep you awake at night. Unmet goals; the financial aspirations you did not reach. The list does go on and on and is endless if you keep on feeding it.
Married women feel under pressure to perform as wives! To cook or bake the same way as the many expert chefs on our television sets. As a husband you may feel pressure to live up to the husband image that your wife sees daily on her favourite soapies. If you are not as romantic, don’t look the same way, are not as educated as so-and-so husband or have don’t the kind of money or car as the family down the street… If you are in a certain neighbourhood and your house does not look like the others. It is a not as beautiful; not as modern not as renovated you might feel that you do not live up to the expectations of your own family.
Feeling pressured gets people into all kinds of trouble! It is one of the leading causes of teenage suicide. It is no different in adults. So many husbands and fathers these days kill their spouses and children because of financial pressure. It is not unheard of to hear of a husband who killed his wife because of the insurance money he would get. Many men and women feel under pressure from their peers; from their families and from themselves. They feel that they are disappointing others by not living up to societal expectations and pressures.
You have to be the perfect spouse; the perfect parent who helps out with everything at home while being an ideal employee at work. Somehow you have to strike that balance of work versus family and faith.
I realise that if one feels under pressure you tend to do things that you would not normally do if you were of a sound mind. Because you feel under pressure you get yourself into debt; treat your spouse and children anyhow; agree to help out in many different ministries and generally just do things that you know that you should not be doing.
Have you ever felt pressure from a driver on the highway? A driver who is in a rush to overtake you and they drive so close to you hinting that they want to pass? Feeling their pressure might cause you to drive faster into a lane that is not safe for you to drive in. Because you felt pressure you quickly swerved to make way for them and did not check your blind spot almost causing an accident. It is no different in life. So many lives and relationships have ended because they succumbed to pressure.
Do not be anxious
If you are indeed speeding on the highway you end up breaking the law. You get yourself in accidents that you would have avoided if you were thinking or driving calmly. Pressure makes one feel agitated; anxious! In Philippians 4:6 it says, “Do not be anxious about anything but in everything with prayer and supplication present your requests to the Lord.” Do not be anxious. This word pressure can also be translated to mean anxious. DO NOT BE ANXIOUS ABOUT ANYTHING. Do not be anxious to perform because it is God who knows the plans to prosper you and your family; plans to give a hope and a future! Jeremiah 29:11
Who is holding your arms?
In Exodus 17:11 we read of a story of Moses when he was in battle with the Amalekites: “As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset.” Moses ONLY won when he had help from others!
There are many people that would be willing to help you if you would only ask. I know as a wife and mom of three school-going kids the demands that these bring. I would not be able to do all that I do at home; ministry and my career if I did not have people in my life holding up my arms. So many of us are either too full of pride to ask for help or we simply do not want to overburden people. If the great of man of God Moses needed help so do you. We all need people! We have kingdom assignments on our lives. God has placed people in your path who are there to be blessings. Whether it is the lady or the gentleman who helps with housework and the garden; the aunt or uncle who volunteers to babysit so you can have some much needed time as a couple! Whether it is a pastor who calls just to check how you are; whether it is a friend who calls and offers to take you out for coffee, these are blessings that God gives us to hold up our arms so we can recharge and focus on what we are meant to do.
Welcome the help. No man is an island. Umntu ngumntu ngabantu is a Nguni idiom which literally means “A person is a person through other people”
If you cannot handle the pressure anymore, cry out for help. I know of a few people who died of heart attacks because they bottled things inside and did not share their problems with others.
Present your requests to the Lord He knows your needs. He says He will meet your need according to His riches in glory. He is the One who gives you peace that surpasses all human understanding.
If you do not know who you are in Christ you will find yourself trying to please others whereas you should live your life focused on pleasing God!