I. AM. STRESSED. OUT. There are just two weeks left until I begin writing exams and perhaps I would not be quite so anxious if that was all I had to focus on. Instead, I keep hearing the incessant ‘ping’ of new emails, the dog insists on bringing me his rope or ball at the most inopportune moments and then there is the inconvenient hassle of necessities such as eating and sleeping.
What I find really difficult, at times like this, is focusing on anything besides the origin of my anxiety. All other aspects of life become subsidiary until the cause of my worry is over and normal life can once more prevail. I have never been very good at handling stress and I believe the root of it lies in my inability to maintain an outward perspective. Yet, it would do me the world of good to remember that the thing over which I spend endless hours agonizing is merely trivial in contrast to the hardship many must endure on a daily basis. Only this week I watched a video that brought me to tears within minutes. The video was of two young boys in Zimbabwe who must fend for themselves because both their parents have passed away as a result of AIDS. They sleep on grain sacks, miss school to fend off baboons from destroying their meager maize crop and the nearest hospital is an 8km walk away. They have no one in the world except each other. The youngest is just ten years old.
On the other hand, I have all the food I could eat, a wardrobe full of clothes, a warm and comfortable home and family and friends who I know I can rely on. In light of this, to elevate a few exams to such a height of significance seems totally irrelevant. What is truly important is that I continue to focus on the things that really matter. To me, it is ensuring that I remember the poor at all times and continue doing everything I can to support them. That is why, despite looming exams, I will be presenting 1.4 Billion Reasons this Sunday after church. I can either spend a couple of hours procrastinating (which is what I would most likely be doing on a Sunday evening) or I can put my worries aside for a short while and maybe do something that has a wider impact than I will ever know.
My inclination is to shut the world out when I reach a high level of stress. Yet, the reality is that the world does not stop turning and issues of poverty do not cease to exist because I feel like I don’t have the capacity to face them. So, by making a small change in my perspective I am more effective in my own life and in turn I have the potential to make a big difference in someone else’s.
PS. If you are in London this Sunday then please do come along to the presentation. All welcome!