Stressed out. Burned out. Maxed out. We’ve all heard (and probably used) these terms. We’ve suffered the consequences of deliberately overloading our lives with commitments and demands. We gain weight, our blood pressure rises, our sleep is disturbed. As we slog through our day in high gear (as the PA Dutch say, “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get”), we drink more coffee, we don’t have time for exercise and meditation, we sprint through the drive-thru and order another artery-stuffing “meal”.
No wonder we gain weight. Life can be loaded with stressful events, sometimes in Job-like rapid-succession. Then, our time-saving, quick, fatty, refined carbs wreak havoc in our bodies, and the simple carbs, sugars, and caffeine overtask our adrenal glands. Cortisol levels escalate. The “fight or flight” reaction kicks in, and “Presto!”–you have convinced your body to start saving fat around the middle for what it perceives to be an imminent encounter with starvation. So, although there are some who are certifiable “stress eaters”…some of that pudge may be a little more complex in its origin. In a 5-years span of time, we moved cross-country twice, I had a miscarriage, carried the next baby full term (complete with C-section), and also lost my Dad in a tragic accident. I gained weight where I never had before…I know whereof I speak. 🙂
You know, I think there were some great blessings before the advent of electricity. When the sun went down, work was done. People couldn’t find you everywhere you went. When you came home, there were no messages to check. If something was important, folks just called back. Yes, I’m grateful for power in my house…I love my appliances. They can make it possible for me to slow down…but do I? While the clothes washer is sloshing and dish washer is humming, and the crock pot bubbles – do I use that extra time to read, or spend time with family, or call a struggling friend?
The Proverbs 31 woman had “maidens” who helped her around the house so that her effectiveness could be increased. She was busy. But busyness doesn’t necessarily mean effectiveness. To read the account, it would seem she was a veritable whirlwind of productivity. But, also consider that while she was not idle (v. 27) she was simultaneously wise (v. 26). Proverbs spends quite a bit of time developing the importance of obtaining wisdom, and illustrating that it is a time-consuming process (2:1-8). Because of this she was able to “go in the strength of the Lord” (Ps 71:14–note how many times praise is mentioned in this context, too).
Mary was praised for sitting at the Savior’s feet while Martha flung herself all over the kitchen. Had Martha once been a “Mary-type”? I wonder. Was Mary really the slouch her sister made her out to be? I doubt it. The Lord Jesus was pretty adept at calling things as He saw them. What was at the root of Martha’s frustration? She probably over-committed herself (and had a faulty view of what hospitality really means as well–click here for a post on that gem). We are good at trying to squish as much as we can into each day. We pride ourselves in our multi-tasking skills. But, is it always true that “more is better”? Here is a list I scribbled down some time ago to help me biblically prioritize and not overload:
- Is it glorifying to God or to self? To serve or be well thought-of?
- Can you do it and still keep your life prioritized biblically (your walk w/God, spouse, children, ministry, job etc.)
- Is there someone from whom you would take a blessing by doing it yourself? Pride—do you “have to make sure it is done right”?
- Can you perform the task to the best of your ability, or simply “go through the motions” (1 Cor. 10:31)?
- Is this a necessary thing (just because everyone else does it, doesn’t mean it is expedient for you)?
- Is God leading you to do this thing (see Romans 12:1,2)? Does your spouse agree?
- Have you previously experienced the consequences of undertaking things in your own strength? Don’t forget them!
If you are in flurry mode (we live in haying country–if you’ve ever seen a hay tedder in action, it creates a great object lesson…spokes whirling, hay flying), here are some resources to help you:
Debi Pryde provides some good direction for burned-out Christian workers here on this page.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss has this transcript on “Choosing Quiet” on her website (click “Listen” at the top, if you’d rather do that).
To view a message by Dr. Jim Berg, entitled “Anxiety: The Silent Killer”–click here.
For a valuable article entitled “Stress, Exercise and Weight Gain” by Dr. Jim Berg, click here.
I also found this sermon by C.J. Mahaney on “A Biblical Understanding of Sleep” to be helpful.
Take some time to sit down and soak in these good resources…and relax.