Stress Will Manifest

One morning this past summer I woke up with chest pain. Every 10 to 15 minutes, it would feel like I was being stabbed around my heart. It hurt so much it would take my breath away, and the pain began radiating into my neck and shoulder.

After this went on for over an hour without subsiding, I did as many people would do in a similar situation; I consulted Dr. Google. Every reputable medical source I found online said the same thing; if you experience any type of chest pain for any length of time, go immediately to the Emergency Room.

Given that I am only 32 years old, I felt silly running to the ER, but I did believe I needed to get checked out, just to be safe. I called my primary care physician’s office, told them what I was experiencing, and they said they’d see me in 30 minutes.

At the doctor’s office, I was given a physical examination, an EKG, a chest X-ray, and blood was drawn. A short time later, the nurse came in to tell me all of the test results came back normal.

She then stated that chest pain could sometimes be brought on by stress.

“By chance are you experiencing an unusual amount of stress in your life?” she asked.

“Well,” I said, “Recently my dad’s health rapidly declined, culminating in a trip to the ER where he was near cardiac arrest. He was hospitalized for five weeks, three of which he was in the ICU, and he had to undergo a surgery they weren’t sure he would survive. Also, my family and I moved out of our house and into my parents’ house. We prepped our old house for sale, and signed a contract to begin building a new house. We have had two contracts fall through on the sale of our old house, and we have exactly six more weeks to sell it or we will own two homes. That’s not something our budget can handle for very long. Also, I’m a full-time mom to my one-year-old and three-year-old, and I’ve been helping take care of my two nephews during the week while they’re out of school for the summer and my sister is working. And a beloved uncle, a personal hero of mine, just passed away after a long and painful battle with cancer. Oh, and our three-year-old was just diagnosed with epilepsy. So…”

The nurse replied, “Yeah, I would call that stressful.”

She determined my chest pain was in fact caused by stress; the medical term for it is “pleurisy.” Pleurisy is when the layer of tissue that surrounds the lungs and lines the chest cavity becomes inflamed.

Here’s the thing. Had you asked me the day before I began having chest pain how I was handling everything that was going on in my life, I would have told you I was fine. And I really thought I was.

But apparently I was holding in so much stress, I caused the layer of tissue that surrounds my lungs and lines my chest cavity to become inflamed. Woah.

That day I realized I’m not as immune to stressful situations as I had thought. And that stress will manifest itself, in one way or another.

No matter how faithful you are, no matter how tough you believe yourself to be, getting stressed and getting overwhelmed happens. To everyone. And that’s okay. No one expects us to have superhuman emotional strength and endurance.

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These last few months, I have slowly stripped my life down to the basics so I can rest. I stepped down from most of our scheduled activities and all of my volunteer commitments. My focus right now is simply on taking care of my home responsibilities, loving on my boys, spending time with family, and occasionally spending time with good friends.

For the first time, possibly ever, I am relishing quiet days with little on the agenda. Life will be busy again soon enough, but right now, I’m enjoying this season of rest.

What about you? Are you in a season of happy activity, or is your body and spirit desperately in need of rest?

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)

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2 Comments

  1. Jody Becker says:

    Hi Brittany! We miss you at Bible study. We just started “Breathe”, by Priscilla Shirer. It’s about Sabbath, and what God intended Sabbath to be. Based on this article, I think you have the gist of it! Leaving time for “Sabbath margin” is critical to our health and well-being, which our great God knew we would need when He created it! He “rested” on the seventh day, not because He was tired, but because He knew WE would be! Enjoy your “seventh day” – you know the busyness will return soon enough!

    • Thank you so much Jody! What great words to share. Priscilla Shirer is an amazing teacher. And I miss all of you guys too! <3 <3 <3

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