Permanent Press | 09.06.19

This evening I raided the pantry for a handful of peanut M&M’S, only to find myself staring at a phrase on the General Electric washer as I exited the laundry room. Permanent Press. Yes, I thought to myself. This is the essence of life as an adult: permanent pressure. “This is ourselves under pressure,” sing David Bowie and Freddie Mercury in their 1981 hit.

To illustrate, we moved into a new home in April. Consequently, I’m navigating the pressure of painting and mowing and repairing and replacing. I have a two-year-old to raise and a wife to serve. Pressure. I work part-time and would like to write a book (or two). More pressure.

Like the valve on my mom’s aging pressure cooker, running catalyzes the release of this confined angst. Running expels the pressure. Or as Mercury puts it in another Queen song, “I want to break free.” Running is release.

Speaking of running, I’m debating whether to register for a December marathon, and this 26.2 mile race would be a fresh attempt at qualifying for the elusive Boston Marathon. Though I could run the course with disregard for time and simply partake of the landscape, entry into Boston requires meeting rigorous time standards based on gender and age. Translation? Pressure to finish under three hours and five minutes and zero seconds. In short, I need to decide whether to commit soon. Pressure.

A minister I listen to regularly recently spoke about tribulations, i.e. pressure. He talked about the prospect of people asking God for additional hardships to exhibit their spiritual grit. To paraphrase the minister’s response, “I have enough trials without praying for more.” We long to be strong, but I’m content with today’s difficulties. “Each day has enough trouble of its own,” writes Matthew.

Pressure is why I repeatedly return to the Scriptures for aid. “Cast all your anxiety [pressure] on him because he cares for you,” writes the apostle Peter (brackets mine). But how do I cast off these pressures that weigh so heavy upon my shoulders? Prayer. I acknowledge the pressures by name to God and humbly ask for the resolve to go forth in Christ’s strength. “He must increase, but I must decrease,” writes John.

“God won’t give you more than you can handle,” goes the popular trope. To which I reply with the unmistakable, blunt voice of Dunder Mifflin legend Dwight Schrute, “False.” God isn’t fair. If he were, I wouldn’t receive mercy and grace. No, I would receive death, separation from the Almighty forever.

Instead, through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, I’m reconciled, restored, and anchored by the enduring promise of Psalm 121: “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” God helps me. What a staggering, restoring truth.

Adulthood may be characterized by permanent pressure, but I rely on a strength that helps me, one day at a time, endure.

Photo courtesy of Marcus Woodbridge

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Austin Bonds