a heart full of peace

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
Divorce 73
Marital separation 65
Imprisonment 63
Death of a close family member 63
Personal injury or illness 53
Marriage 50
Dismissal from work 47
Marital reconciliation 45
Retirement 45
Change in health of family member 44
Pregnancy 40
Sexual difficulties 39
Gain a new family member 39
Business readjustment 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
Major mortgage 32
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
Vacation 13
Christmas 12
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.

One response to “a heart full of peace

  1. Peace that passes all understanding….I think you might have a small grasp on what that means 🙂 Blessings to you and your growing family! Thank you for a very encouraging post!

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