Since Mandie Joy and I have both gotten home, we’ve talked a lot about our last couple of years. Two years ago, we were preparing for Uganda and had no idea what would hold. I’ve been compiling an outline of events, which
sort of really stressed me out, which prompted me to think about a stress scale I had taken or seen, which sent me on a google search. It’s called the Holmes and Rahe stress scale. For each event that has occurred in the last year, you add that number of points.
Here’s what I found:
|Life event||Life change units|
|Death of a spouse||100|
|Death of a close family member||63|
|Personal injury or illness||53|
|Dismissal from work||47|
|Change in health of family member||44|
|Gain a new family member||39|
|Change in financial state||38|
|Death of a close friend||37|
|Change to different line of work||36|
|Change in frequency of arguments||35|
|Foreclosure of mortgage or loan||30|
|Change in responsibilities at work||29|
|Child leaving home||29|
|Trouble with in-laws||29|
|Outstanding personal achievement||28|
|Spouse starts or stops work||26|
|Begin or end school||26|
|Change in living conditions||25|
|Revision of personal habits||24|
|Trouble with boss||23|
|Change in working hours or conditions||20|
|Change in residence||20|
|Change in schools||20|
|Change in recreation||19|
|Change in church activities||19|
|Change in social activities||18|
|Minor mortgage or loan||17|
|Change in sleeping habits||16|
|Change in number of family reunions||15|
|Change in eating habits||15|
|Minor violation of law||11|
Score of 300+: At risk of illness.
Score of 150-299+: Risk of illness is moderate (reduced by 30% from the above risk).
Score 150-: Only have a slight risk of illness.
*taken from Wikipedia.
So, I decided to add up stressors from the last year of life…and well, hmm.
- Marriage: 50 points
- Pregnancy: 40 points
- Change to a different line of work: nursing -> foster care -> SAHW, so do I double the points? 36 points
- Change in living conditions: umm…hardly any electricity and running water and washing clothes by hand to all modern conveniences…I guess it would be more stressful going the other way. 25 points
- Change in residence: podunk Uganda town -> less podunk Uganda town -> Hilton Head -> Italy -> Fort Stewart. 20 points x4 = 80 points
- Change in church activities: house church -> childhood church -> Army chapel -> new church. 19 points
- Change in social activities: I don’t even know how to quantify this coming from Uganda…so we’ll just say yes. 18 points
- Change in eating habits: I certainly didn’t eat a balanced diet in Uganda. 15 points
- Vacation: honeymoon. 13 points
- Christmas: this happens every year…how does it qualify? 12 points
- “I had five children and I lost them, but I know they are where they should be” doesn’t show up anywhere on the list, so we’ll categorize that under “child leaving home.” 29 points x5 = 145 points
Total: 453 points
I qualify under the “at risk of illness” category. The funny thing is that I feel surprisingly well adjusted for having so many changes in the last year. Although, I’m told it’s the really serious cases that are oblivious to anything being wrong. So I’m happily oblivious.
I say all this somewhat tongue in cheek. The last two years have included incredibly hard and incredibly joyful events. If Jesus had not redeemed me and made me his child then truly, I’d be in a mental institution somewhere wandering the halls hear phantom cries and looking for my children, trying to store water and food and conserve the battery on my computer in case I get a chance to Skype home.
But God is so faithful and although we have created a way to quantify stressful life events, He is bigger than that. He creates beauty from ashes. He raises the dead to life. He heals the broken. He calms the storm. He makes the fig tree blossom and the vine produce. He feeds thousands from a few loaves of bread.
He indwells me and gives me a heart of contentment. I can stare into the future with trepidation for what will happen, or I can remember how He has brought peace into the chaos, and I can choose to trust Him.
I choose trust. He has given me eternal life and no one shall pluck me out of His hand. If I live with that assurance than the rest is put into perspective.