Lesson 18- Release Pressure

Right now, I live in a pressure cooker. Have you ever been in one? You know, there is heaviness internally, and you can feel the external force pushing in on you as well. Stress and anxiety from all sides. There is no area of life that is free of strain. Being in a pressure cooker is different from regular stressful situations in that there is no escape, and you are not there by choice. Lately I have noticed that I am not the only one in this situation. It seems like everyone I know is facing multiple life challenges. For me, there is work stress as teachers are asked to do more and more with less and less. Financial challenges press in as well as we prepare to send a third child to college next year. My health concerns are on hold while I wait for the doctor to look at my scan. And my mother-in-law is slowly fading away as brain cancer takes its toll. All of these things put stressors on my relationships and make me snippy. None of these things is voluntary. None of them can be changed a whole lot. (Except maybe a wonderful CT scan report which I am still praying for.) I can feel the pressure. It is building inside of me because of the things going on outside of me. There are days I feel as if an explosion is right around the corner, and I will spontaneously combust at any moment.
I did some research on pressure cookers. (Yes, I am for real. I am a writer after all. Plus, I own one. I use it. I have no idea how it works, but it is the only way I can cook green beans. If I were to lose it or if it broke…no green beans.) I found out that water boils at 212o F. No matter how long you boil it, the temperature of both the water and the steam stays the same…unless you put it under pressure. Then the temperature rises. I found out that cooking with pressure increases the heat, which speeds the cooking process while at the same time preserving the nutrients in the food. Pressure cookers also have a valve, which releases the steam. It keeps the top of the pot from blowing off completely. This valve hisses as steam blows out of it. It regulates the pressure inside the cooker.
So how does all of this apply to my pressure cooker life you ask? And what does any of it have to do with fitness? There are times in life that are pressure packed. Unavoidable heaviness. God has not fallen off his throne in these moments. He uses the stress and strain of trials to speed up the “cooking” process in our lives. Pressure causes our faith to mature more quickly. This maturing process is heavy in nutrients. Because of the added pressure, we retain the all the value of the process and the lessons are not wasted. However, we need a way to release some of the pressure so that it does not destroy us. Hence the fitness connection. For me, right now, my exercise is a release. I can feel the stress leave my body when I walk or work out. My mind clears, my emotions settle and I feel better. Nothing about my circumstances has changed, only I changed.
Exercise isn’t the only release. Crying does the trick too. Weeping endures for a night but joy comes in the morning. I think there is a discharge of pain in our tears. Some of the steam that builds up through stressful times flows out when we weep. It is natural to feel emotion rise up in difficult life events. When we stuff it down, our body, as well as our emotional well-being, suffers the consequences. Letting the tears flow is healthy.
Prayer and worship are also two definite places we can expel our true feelings. That is the part of the pressure cooker, which liberates our spirit. Despite the weight all around us, we find our faith is made stronger. Seems opposite than what you would think. But then God is full of dichotomies, and mysterious ways. Release pressure, and you will find that the heaviness lifts and peace flows even in the midst of hardship

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