A friend of mine recently told me, ‘Life feels like a fast-moving treadmill for me. I’m involved in far too many activities. I have too many problems and concerns to look after. I know I am too busy.’
Unfortunately when we get that busy, we don’t really have time to soak up the joy, the beauty of each day, the amazing world that God has created for us. In our busy-ness, we likely miss God in our lives. We need to slow down, to be less involved, to take time to listen to God, to live our lives as fully as possible. We are in need of Sabbath.
Recently I’ve been asked to lead workshops, even to preach, on the topic of Sabbath. It seems that many of us are living in a world that is moving too fast and we are longing for a healthier, more wholesome lifestyle. We likely feel overstretched, overworked, and financially insecure, and therefore are experiencing an imbalance in our personal and work lives. We may lack healthy and well-balanced connections with our partners, friends, family, even our community. All of this causes stress and anxiety, which has a negative impact on our physical, mental, and spiritual health. Our bodies are designed with a set of automatic responses to deal with stress, and this system is very effective for the short term responses (e.g., fight or flight) that we need when faced with immediate danger. But our bodies can’t distinguish the kind of stress we are experiencing and thus tend to deal inaptly with all types of stress in the same way.
I did a little research on how we can recognize when we are experiencing too much stress in our lives. Here are some of the signs and symptoms:
Physical: headaches, grinding teeth, clenched jaws, chest pain, shortness of breath, pounding heart, high blood pressure, muscle aches, indigestion, fatigue, insomnia
Psychosocial: anxiety, irritability, sadness, defensiveness, anger, mood swings, hypersensitivity, apathy, depression, feelings of helplessness, hopelessness
Behavioral: over-eating or loss of appetite, impatience, quickness to argue, procrastination, increased use of alcohol or drugs, increased smoking, withdrawal or isolation from others, neglect of responsibility, poor job performance
As life rushes us along, we hunger to have a more spiritual way of being in a world filled with instability, financial insecurity, loss, war. Although we yearn to nourish our souls and bodies, very few of us stop and take the time to play or to discover new ideas to restore ourselves. We rarely make time for ‘Sabbath’ in our lives. Yes, we need to hang out and laugh with God – and to heal our bodies and souls.
Lord, thank you for your love. We pray that you will refresh our souls and open us to your care, your guidance. When we are overextended, care for us with your loving presence. We call out to you to help us deal with this world of sorrow. Give us the will and desire to rest and restore, to heal our lives, to choose life. Amen.