Off the Cuff: Chill Out Greg
[I’m writing ‘off the cuff’ also ‘known as shooting from the hip’ so it may raise more questions than it does answers, I may or may not even agree with it come tomorrow and it may or may not be helpful…so I love you and good luck]
Ever wake up stressed? I did and I noticed it. Stress can be a bit of an unkind messenger, but still an early warning sign that something is breaking. Kind of like the light ‘service needed’ that can appear on the dashboard of my car letting me know that the car needs something to keep running the way I’m driving it and if I ignore this light (which I’m tempted to do in the midst of all the other things asking for my attention) I might end up going from needing a simple oil change to having to repair a major part in a broken down engine.
As I was on my second cup of coffee with two kids on my lap, one rearranging the shape of my face the other riding a ‘horsey’ also known as my knee, Ali, my wife came into the room with her cup of coffee, looking a bit like she got hung upside down by her toes through a good portion of the night (sorry, babe). I asked the obvious question, “Where’s my breakfast?” No, just kidding, I really asked, “how did you sleep last night”? “Not well at all. I had a couple strange dreams and Joy was up for awhile. I also woke up feeling really stressed.” “Me too,” I replied (although I honestly don’t remember the part when I was awake in the middle of the night with our 2 year old.)
Sometimes it takes someone else saying it to really notice. And whenever we both feel something, in this case stress, Ali and I have learned to pay closer attention to what is going on, in us, around us, in the spiritual atmosphere and see if we can address it. It is tempting not to. Stress has become an accepted norm in many of the circles I run in. It even at times seems to viewed as a badge of honor or seal of I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing in life.
“Come to me all you who are weary and heavy burdened. Take my yoke upon you, for my yoke will require you to have more to do than you have time to do it and I will evaluate you on unrealistic measurements of how well you do and base how much I value, empower and even love and accept you on your performance. So start dancing monkey!…and you will have rest for your souls.”
This is an updated and modern translation based on a loose translation of the Greek of Jesus’ words for our more contemporary contexts.
So Ali and I started by addressing the spiritual dynamics around us (which there have been more of recently). I won’t go into this much now, some of you might think it strange – and you’re probably right. But, we didn’t notice much of a shift in our stress which usually indicates that we have believed a lie somewhere along the way and in varying degrees have started to agree with and live out of that lie.
Now there is a lot to this. Many books have been written, classes been taught, psychological, spiritual and medical wisdom offered to address this whole area. Too much for me to take on right now ‘off the cuff’. I’ve come to the conclusion the busyness and stress that comes from a performance oriented mindset and culture is toxic to all things related to intimacy with God and others. More on this another time. The clinical research also makes a strong case of the toxic affects it has on our physical health and well being. So, it makes me wonder, why do we keep doing this to ourselves and others? And is there a sustainable, realistic way out?
Anyway, that’s enough for now, I’ve got to get back to work…I’ve got so much stuff to do today…