The last three days have all had a similar theme, and without going into too much detail about it, I would like to at least briefly examine the pattern of events and try to determine if there is anything for me to wonder about in particular. I figure when the same kind of things happen several days in a row, that such things happen for a reason, and that there is a message embedded in that particular series of circumstances, but what sort of message is being sent is not one I happen to know, nor one I am sure I want to inquire all too deeply if this is all some kind of dress rehearsal for something serious. I will certainly keep alert and sensitive to such a thing, but at the same time, it is hard not to think at least a little bit selfishly and wonder when it will be my turn to enjoy what’s going on rather than to be stressed out while serving and helping others.
That is the common thread of the past three days. On Sabbath my journey to Sabbath school was interrupted rather rudely, and yet my day was spent largely serving, in music practice, in teaching children about the dramatic conversion of Paul, and in helping a friend with the rudiments of taking care of the violin she borrowed from a relative of hers. Later that night I then received a call with a request for a carpool, which cut my night a little late while I was writing, but which offered more opportunity to be of service. The next day I was made particularly anxious by difficult conversation matters that the person I was riding with wanted to know about, and then the service itself  proved to be immensely stressful, being in a crowded room, pressed for time for setting up and taking down, filled with acts that reminded me painfully of my solitude, followed by an afternoon where my own plans to enjoy a peaceful and relaxing afternoon of reading was dramatically changed by the need to attempt to jump start someone else’s vehicle and then drive them home when their car battery could not receive a charge. Then today I got to work and had to take a Spanish call right away, which was rather stressful, and then spent several hours on an exciting but time-pressured special project that was also stressful but of service to the company I work for.
What about my plans? All of these particular situations share some common traits. All of them involved a great deal of stress for myself personally, involved unfamiliar areas and difficult subjects of conversation with high degrees of personal discomfort, pressures of time, and a heavy divergence between the positive benefit my service had on others and the level of irritation and stress I felt myself. Are my own feelings in the matter irrelevant? Is not the best sort of experience one of mutual service and enjoyment, rather than service which brings benefit to others at significant cost to ourselves? Is there a lesson in being flexible, able to handle the disruption of my plans, and do quality work despite suffering from nightmares and sleeping poorly? To be sure, I have spent my life serving others and working hard despite my own limitations, my own crippling anxiety, terrible sleeping patterns, and generally jittery nerves. At what point does life become easier and less stressful, where there at least more pleasure received along with the loyal and excellent service given on a regular basis?
If I had to guess what these sorts of reasonably similar experiences meant, I would put them together as follows. Being able to do great work in a wide variety of tasks under circumstances that are less than ideal, being able to overcome stress and timidity and the frustrating delays for one’s own goals and plans, and being able to deal with others effectively, being gracious and polite even under duress is a matter of importance. Given the fact that three days in a row have independently had the same themes without any particular individuals being involved in all of the stress and difficulty suggests that this is a more generalized concern and is not focused on any one person in particular, thankfully. What does it look like on the other side, though? Clearly, such a concentrated amount of attention being paid to something would appear to indicate that stress management is a task of considerable importance and urgency. Only time can tell, though, what purposes it has.