We all face stressors in life, but ultimately it is up to us to decide if we are stressed or not. I often say that I don’t get stressed, and if you ask those close to me, they would agree… to a fault they might even say. But I feel strongly that God does not want you to be stressed, so it is a goal of mine not to stress.
Recently, my daughter Brooke was given antibiotics after living her entire nine years without ever taking any drug of any kind. I didn’t stress. She is an amazing girl, with amazing health, and is in a time where she could use some assistance to insure that the best outcome occurs. But I did not stress, nor will I now over her ability to overcome any residual effect of the drug, or the illness that made us go in that direction.
Likewise, my life has been loaded with stressors in the last 9 days, but stress has been a small part of my life. However, it has been there more in this time than I think I have had in the last year or more. It all started with my decision to bring my wife into the planning of Garage Games One (the largest competition that my gym holds). As many of you know, I am a partner in four CrossFit gyms, the first of which, started a competition series that hosted over 150 competitions last year around the country. And partnered with close to 220 different CrossFit gyms to do it.
Well, GG1 is the largest one that we host, and I am very closely tied to this one. Myself and another owner and his wife, along with mine (resume story from above) planned this one. By the end of last weekend, Laura and Beth described the event as having a baby. It all started kind of fun and nice about 6 months ago as the planning began. Almost exciting even. But as it approached, the anxiety and discomfort grew, right to the point where labor began… and it continued… and continued. Finally when it was over, it was a euphoric kind of high (well, maybe not that).
The only problem, is that the event started Friday the 14th, and ended Sunday night the 16th. It was loaded with action from start to finish, and we had moving parts all over the place. So we spent the night in Suwanee on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Got home Sunday night around 11pm, then left for Steamboat Monday midday. So, while my wife lie in bed, thinking about the event on Friday night, letting her potential for four and a half hours of sleep, slip away as she lie awake, stress not only slipped into her life, but into mine.
Fast forward to Steamboat. All was going pretty well, until the girls got a little better in their ski skills, and I took them out onto the slopes. Man. Nothing can prepare a father for that moment when you are teaching your child to work through mortal fear… especially when it seems totally unfounded. Now, I remember that feeling of “this is too steep, I cannot possibly make it down this hill alive”, but I also remember conquering that fear. So as my two daughters and I were quickly becoming the “last people” on the mountain on Thursday night, I got a little stressed.
In the end it all worked out, we ended up skiing that run three times without issue over the following two days. But, oh… the stress of it. One daughter too scared to move, the other daughter too anxious to stay put (kept getting further away from us down the mountain)… this was a tough one. But, if I can take a second, we are all responsible for our own stress, I am the only one responsible for putting myself in that situation. So even though, my daughter was “stressing” me out, it was all mine. Don’t forget that.
Jump ahead, Saturday AM, we just bought lift tickets for the day (we flew out Sunday AM from Denver at 6:30am, so needed to get in the car to get to the Hotel in Denver by a decent time), we had originally planned to NOT ski on Saturday, and simply spend some time around Steamboat. So, within about thirty minutes of getting our lift tickets, and renewing our rentals for a day, we get the call that our dog isn’t doing well (our dog sitter is absolutely awesome for being quick on picking this up). A little while later we get a call, his blood isn’t looking good, and the vet wants to send him somewhere else, a few hours and another call, our awesome dog Toby is on the verge of death (he is home with us, and alive right now still).
Fast forward to the hotel room in Denver. My wife realizes that her license is gone. No photo ID to board the plan in the AM. Fast forward again, wake up at 3am so that we can get to the airport early in order to convince TSA that she is who we say she is, and to let her fly (in the end it worked out).
Now that you see the whole picture, lets step back and look at how I responded.
1. Yelled at my daughter to get herself moving on the mountain that was scaring her to death… why? Because I was stressed, and I knew that she would be fine if she followed me. But fine isn’t the goal. Strike one.
2. Yelled at God on the mountain after the second phone call. How could my dog be dying, now?
3. Yelled at everyone in my vicinity when I was forced to drop off the rental car late last night, in order to catch a shuttle early enough from the hotel to the airport to get to argue with TSA.
You see. I don’t get stressed very easily, but when I do, I don’t handle it well. Normally, it just rolls off my back, but as soon as it begins to take a hold of me… look out. And that isn’t good. So my point in this, is not the damage that stress does to your health. I have told that story many times over, and I will tell it again. But the story that I want to tell today, is that your relationships are the most valuable thing you will ever have. Your spouse and your children… parents… siblings. They are all incredibly important, and depend upon you sucking up you, and shoving it back down to where it belongs.
I went to drop the car off, it was about 10pm Denver time, and I was thinking about how I wanted to time this just right to get to the airport just right, to get the hotel shuttle to pick me up and take me back to the hotel, so I could sleep five hours, then get back on the hotel shuttle to the airport. You see what I was doing here? Traveling with shuttles to do it cheap, so I called a cab after I realized, i need quick, not cheap. Well the one cab company estimated 45 minutes to pick me up. Ugh. So I decided to go with cheap.
Well, I got to the rental car company, and the woman (after five minutes of clicking on her computer for some information that I wasn’t privy to learn), asked me “is it full?” ”No, I got that whole pre-pay thing” ”well it isn’t on your account” ”so i need to fill it up or pay you a ridiculous amount per gallon?” ”yep”
So as I was driving out tot he gas station having this conversation with the lady in my head “well, this guy Hector ought to be fired for forgetting to add my gas, causing me to drive out into the snow at 10pm, when I already have a ridiculous night ahead of me, and my dog is dying and my wife’s license is gone, and….”
That is all it took for me to break down in laughter. ”God – I cannot believe that I am complaining about losing a dog… not a person. That I would want someone fired because I had to lose about ten minutes of my life, and that in the midst of all that is going poorly in the world, that I would be concerned with any of this. Sorry, forgive me, lets laugh.”
And that is what I did, for the next ten minutes, and I joked with the shuttle driver, and the taxi stand attendant who kept me in conversation while I waited on the wrong side of the terminal for the hotel shuttle, and then finally the lady next to me in the packed hotel shuttle. It was all good. And as I snuck into my room with my kids sound asleep, and the iDream app kicking out crazy loud “river” noise… I smiled, and thanked God for helping me find perspective.
Be Well and Be Blessed – Dr. E