I’m struggling as I prepare to attend a writer’s conference in a couple of weeks. I could list all the elements of the conference and my to-do items that have me stressed, but that would probably only serve to stress you out, too.

Come to think of it, one of the reasons I’m stressed about this conference is that I follow a couple of blogs about writing where the authors outline tasks we should be doing to prep for the conference. Though they’re right to a point, the lists are pretty demanding, and they’re not all the same, so the reminders and prep work multiplied in my mind and turned into such a monster that you’d think this was my first conference.

My guess is that you’re no stranger to stressing over a big event either, whether it’s  test, a conference, a job interview, a class reunion, or… anything! So, from here on out, instead of writing about conferences specifically, we’ll lump all those stressors together and just call it The Event.

How can we slay The Event’s worry monster and it’s arm-length to-do list?

With another to-do list, of course–but I hope that you’ll find this one encouraging!

Think about things that are THRPLA EWOP (pronounced: thurp-la ee-whop). Philippians 4:8 tell us, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about thinks that are excellent and worthy of praise.” I came up with Thrpla as a memory prompt to remember the list of positives in this verse. And, in remembering it, I know I’m not to dwell on past mistakes, whether they’re my own or another person’s story of a moment at The Event that’s gone wrong and what they’re doing to prevent it from happening again. Instead of dwelling on my fears, I’m to focus on my God-given strengths, the goodness of my God, and the wonderful opportunity he’s given me by allowing me to go to The Event.

Don’t go it alone! Talk through the challenges you face going into The Event with a trusted friend who will not help you wallow in worry but who will help you find solutions. Sometimes, we have no alternative but to walk a challenging road, but sometimes a friend can see a solution you missed. But remember Thrpla! Look for solutions and don’t dwell on negatives!

Keep your priorities straight. That means putting God first and prioritizing time with him over time spent preparing for The Event. Have you read your Bible and prayed today? No? This is closely related to the first item on this list because spending time with God is the best way to remember what is truly Thrpla and what’s just garbage we’ve picked up from the world.

Also remember that our mission in life isn’t to realize our own interests. Instead, we are here to glorify God and to bring honor to the name of Jesus. Considering your own interests as less important than whatever God has for you can lower your stress.

Make a list. Yes, another to-do list. When we’re in thought, a handful of to-do items can feel daunting, but when they’re on a page and you find that what seemed like a lot to keep straight is really on four items, it’s encouraging. Plus, who doesn’t love to cross items off as complete? But as you write that list…

Be reasonable in what you ask of yourself. I’m a perfectionist who likes to have all her bases covered. But if I try to do everything everyone recommends plus find a solution for whatever little worries worm their way into my head, I’ll drive myself crazy. I have to ask myself if everything I have in mind really reasonable. I have to decide what I’m really going to spend my energy on and what I’m going to let slide as less important.

Remember that you’re not in control. God is. And that’s perfect because God is perfect and no one can thwart his purposes. The Event may not turn out the way you had in mind, but if you’ve put reasonable work into preparing, you can relax in the providence of the God who created and loves you.

You don’t have to do it all, and whatever you do, you don’t have to do it alone.

How do you stay sane while preparing for The Event?

Your Sister

photo credit: Unsplash.com, Jose Martin