Led by Amarri Sanders, AUHS Student Success Coordinator
“The subject for today’s Noonday Prayer is handling stress. We have a lot of things going on in AUHS. Everyone is always busy and working hard,” said Sanders, “I see how you all handle your stress differently and I think this would be a good topic for all of us to talk about.”
Attendees sat in a circle and were given a list of passages from both the Old and the New Testament of the Holy Bible. Each attendee took a turn to read each passage out loud and shared what each excerpt meant to him or her on a personal, professional and spiritual level.
Luke 21:14-19 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life.
Although we must have the ability to take constructive criticism, it is imperative to stand firm in your beliefs. Never forget who you are.
“Recently I have had a lot of issues where people tell me to be a certain way in my life. Of course, we need be able to take constructive criticism so we can grow and improve ourselves. But sometimes it’s important to remember who you are and stand firm,” said Chantal Jura, the AUHS Director of Career Services and Affiliations.
In regards to handling stress, Jura advises her colleagues to remain calm under pressure.
“I think that being the calm in the middle of a storm is more effective than jumping to conclusions or resorting to anger,” Jura said, “It is good to take a moment and pause. You don’t have to answer right away. Just wait and you can think things through.”
It is important to leave the past behind and focus on the present so we can have a brighter future.
“The future is the future, the past is the past, but we really have to stay in the present and stay focused on what is happening today and how we feel right now,” Jura said, “If we stand firm on who we are, if we become the calm in the chaos, we will win life. We will be able to move forward and conquer whatever it is that we need to conquer in our own way because each of us is different.”
Dr. Caroll Ryan, the President of AUHS, was a licensed Family and Child Therapist and offered insight on what stress was from a psychological standpoint.
“Stress is really nothing more than a challenge that we are facing except there is a sense of personal threat. If we can look at any stressful situation and take the personal threat out of it, then it is just a challenge,” Dr. Ryan said, “People are capable of rising to the challenge but when there’s a sense of ‘Something is going to happen to me’ or ‘I’m going to die,’ then stress becomes triggered.”
The physiological response to fear and excitement is the same. The only difference is how we interpret it in our brains, according to Dr. Ryan.
“If we can take the stress and anything that we are feeling stressed about and reinterpret it and reframe it to what is actually happening then we can calm down and we can get through it,” Dr. Ryan said.
Pastor Gregory Johnson, the Co-founder of AUHS, reminded everyone in the room to never forget who they really are.
“I think that the distractions and the noise come to make us move away from who we are. We are the sons and daughters of the Most High God,” Pastor Johnson said, “One of the things that I know for sure is that as a university, we have a cause and a purpose. We, as a university, do not act like the rest of the world and because of this, other people are going to despise everything that we stand for. They are going to despise your love and they are going to despise your good deeds.”
Pastor Johnson urged the room to remain diligent and steadfast in the face of adversity because God is with them.
“You are the sons and daughters of the Most High God regardless of who goes against against you,” Pastor Johnson said, “You will always win if you stand firm with God.”
Hai Luong, an AUHS Admissions Coordinator, shared with his co-workers how he struggled to come to terms with his identity.
“When I was in high school, I did not want people to know that I was Vietnamese. Obviously, that is something very hard to hide,” Luong said, “But until I really had a personal relationship with Jesus, I began to look at myself differently.”
Luong referred to 1 Samuel 16 where the Prophet Samuel came to anoint David with oil. Samuel was looking for a tall, strong and handsome man; all of the things that David was not. As a result, Samuel did not notice David.
“God told the Prophet Samuel that people look at one’s outward appearance but God looks at the heart. So our identity is really from within, not from without,” Luong said, “The holy spirit within us is really what identifies us and makes us who we are. When I learned this, I was no longer afraid of how people looked at me.”
Psalm 118:5-6 When Hard-pressed, I cried to the LORD; he brought me into a spacious place. The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?
The stress and pressures we face in life are unavoidable but God has the power to take away our burdens. Rely on the Lord and always ask Him for guidance.
“Patience is one of the hardest virtues to have because it is difficult to go through life’s many obstacles without losing it. However, if we can be patient and control our emotions, it can help us win in life,” said Aya Almukhtar, an AUHS Admissions Coordinator, “Stress can lead to destructive actions. If you wear stress or frustration on your sleeves, then not only will distract you from your work but you will cause strife between you and your peers, coworkers and family members. Stress will lead you to chaos rather than success.”
Life can be difficult at times but we must be strong and always move forward. It is important to control your negative emotions and to not act like a child having a tantrum, according to Almukhtar. We must have self-control and overcome life’s obstacles with grace and dignity. Another thing that will help relieve stress is forgiveness.
“This verse makes me think of release. When I’m stressed out, I tend to bottle things up and then I want to explode. Sometimes we need to be reminded that if we let it go, you can have peace,” said Sanders, “When my aunt is talking to someone who is in pain or is struggling in life, she always tells them, ‘Just release it, let it go, move on, and we’ll go from there.’”
Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
“I always involve God in everything I do. There is no situation where I do not involve God,” said Maria Maloles, the AUHS Director of Marketing and Publications, “I know I have been thrown into a lot of situations at home and at work but with God’s help, I feel like there’s someone always watching over me.”
When there are difficult situations and difficult people that give you a hard time, always do the best work you possibly can and pray to God for guidance.
“If I’m not doing the right thing, I still ask for God’s guidance and I ask somebody else to give me guidance if I’m doing it wrong,” said Maloles, “I’m always open to correction and criticism. I don’t take it so hard, and I have learned and grown so much because of it.”
Maloles thanked Pastor Johnson for mentoring her throughout her career in AUHS.
“I learned the hard way because Pastor was my mentor. I started this job in 2013 and I am a stronger person now than I was four years ago,” Maloles said.
Sanders shared with the room that one of the biggest reasons why she becomes stressed is because of her fear of the unknown.
“I always want to have a plan and I get anxious about things that are unknown. Uncertainty and not knowing what is going to happen next makes me feel uncomfortable,” Sanders said, “I tend to go to people who give me comfort and I realize that those people get their strength and comfort from God.”
Pastor Johnson talked about his relationship with his three children and compared it to humanity’s relationship with God.
“I look at my kids and when they want or need something, they don’t hesitate. They just go to the source. The problem we have when it comes to God is that we hesitate to ask Him for help because we want to handle it. We want to control the situation,” Pastor Johnson said.
When Pastor Johnson’s children need help, they expect their Father to give them an answer.
“Fortunately, because my children know that I love them, they can come to me easily and I can give them an answer,” Pastor Johnson said, “I think we just have to move away from this attitude of thinking that we are adults when it comes to God. We don’t need to be that way. We can go to God for advice, we can go to God for guidance, we can go to God for information.”
About American University of Health Sciences
AUHS is a Christian based, minority-serving university, which educates students for careers in the healthcare professions. AUHS emphasizes the values of faith in God, love of humankind, and belief that all people have a right to healthcare and deserve a good quality of life based on wellness of body, mind and spirit. The university celebrates diversity, and reaches out to groups currently underrepresented in healthcare and research. AUHS provides the undergraduate and graduate curriculum, hands-on practical training and supportive environment required to create competent and compassionate healthcare professionals.
American University of Health Sciences is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), 985 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 100, Alameda, CA 94501, 510.748.9001.