Chaplain's Corner: Pancakes or TV dinners?

  • Published
  • By Chaplain (Capt.) Kelly Stahl
  • Tinker Chapel
Whoever said "the fastest way to a man's heart is through his stomach" really had something there. It is true. Men seem to connect best over plates of steaming hot entrées. My wife, before we were married, would make the best dishes and that continues on even today. I am sure that is one of the many reasons we connected so well as she is such a great cook.

But I have a theory about how we may see ourselves and this can be illustrated through food. I think people believe they are TV dinners. My brother-in-law is one who enjoys TV dinners. Why, you ask? He can't stand it when his food touches. Maybe you can relate to his eating preference. To him, the mashed potatoes should never touch the peas and the apple cobbler had better not mingle with the meatloaf.

And it is so with many people regarding stress in their lives. People see each compartment on their tray and see work stress here, relationship stress there, financial stress in that little compartment, etc. They think they can keep each compartment from hitting one another and never combine the stressful issues of their lives.

Many work hard at not talking about the stress of work to their families. Many times we stuff our family, relationships and financial stresses down deep as to not bring it up at work. The problem is that stress, in reality, does not work like that. We are more like a nice big stack of pancakes. Thus, my next illustration. When stress comes, it doesn't neatly compartmentalize itself, it stacks itself on top of the last stressful event that happened or is happening. Pretty soon you have a pretty weighty stack of stress that seems to press down on you.

Remember, stress isn't just a mental or emotional state with little consequence. The medical community will tell you that stress is very physical in nature as it will find a way out of your body through heart disease, high blood pressure, digestive problems and even neurological issues.

The question is, "How can I deal with the stacking of stress?" The answer is, "Not easy," but can be dealt with several ways.

First of all, find an outlet to get things off your chest. Talk is very therapeutic. Many stress stuffers, when stress finally overwhelms them to the point the need to talk to a chaplain or counselor, are amazed how better they feel just by talking. Other answers are exercise, hobbies, volunteering, pets and faith.

Having a community of faith has been proven to reduce stress. Philippians 4:6-7 talks about not being anxious about anything. We are to pray about it and release the control over to God. That is a large problem with the stressful circumstance of life: control. We want to control every situation and when it is out of our control we get stressed. But the result of releasing control to God is a peace that surpasses all understanding. Who doesn't want that? We may think that we are TV dinners, compartmentalizing our stresses, but in reality we are a stack of pancakes. Syrup anyone?