Stress

One of my many "therapists" who came into the hospital room.

One of my many “therapists” who came into the hospital room.

Well.

That was different.

It’s one thing to waste time. Save time. Time to stand still.

I’m making up for lost time.

Literally.

I seem to have misplaced about four hours last week.  Oh, I lived it. And was pretty agitated about it. I just can’t remember it.

TIA, they called it.  Which led to an MRI, an EEG, and a hospital with a big FEE.

I crack myself up.

That was not exactly how I had planned my day to be. But life – and LifeVesting – has a way of throwing curves. And those curveball experiences are their own version of sowing and reaping.

Let’s start with the reaping. [click to continue…]

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mobbing

Have you ever fantasized about growing wings and flying away to escape the unending stress or tension?

Have you found yourself wishing recently that you could manage to make it through one day without hearing a barrage of angry or critical words or feeling like you must be the only one in the crowd who just doesn’t “get it” (whatever “it” is)?

Have you been avoiding trips to the doctor under the guise that no news is good news, even though you know you’re not as energetic as you used to be?

What’s your latest reminder that the next time the bell tolls – even randomly – your number may be up?

Have you been channel surfing lately for “I Love Lucy” or “Andy Griffith” reruns, just so your TV can remember what it’s like not to hear about another reason to be afraid or another example of urban violence?

Oh, and what’s the latest on the scandal? You know… the same ol’ same ol’ about the latest hero or public figure headed to court or the hall of public shame because they just weren’t who we thought they were?

Are you tired of being lied to by your so-called leaders and oppressed by those in charge?

Are you still reeling from the betrayal of a friend or bitter because someone you trusted and needed abused that trust?

Are you angry enough to hurt somebody yourself?  Do people keep asking you what’s the matter and you keep pretending you’re just tired or something stupid like that?

What if I were to tell you that everything I just described didn’t come from CNN or Fox News, but from an ancient poem – a psalm from the Bible?  (Well, there are no “I Love Lucy” or “Andy Griffith” reruns or TVs in the Bible, but pretty much everything else is there.) [click to continue…]

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Sisyphus

(A Conversation)

You know I didn’t make that up.

Yeah, but you sure nailed me with it.

Only because I know what it feels like.

Yeah, I know you do.

So… back to the metaphor… you feel like you’re pushing a 2,000-pound rock up a hill by yourself.

That about sums it up.

Well give me back my rock!

Dude, you can have it.

Just kidding. You can keep it. It looks really nice rolling over you.

Wow, with friends like you…

Yeah, yeah.  I do have one question about this picture, though.

Okay.

You have the hill, the boulder, and you.

Uh huh. [click to continue…]

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Carrying Weight 2

Chances are, you have no idea.

A couple of weeks ago we were packing for a week at Disney.

No, professional movers or U-Haul were not involved.

Anyway, when Robin got everything loaded into three suitcases that a near-grown human could fit into, she asked me to weigh the luggage to make sure she had thought of everything.

Um, I mean, to make sure it fit within airline regulations.

We have this handy little scale that picks up the suitcase by the handle and lets you know what you’re asking those baggage handlers to tote ‘n’ hurl. I picked up the first.

“Forty pounds,” says I.

“See what that feels like?” says my ever-wise wife. “That’s what you’re no longer carrying around.”

I should point out here that in the last five months I’ve lost about that much weight. And that little luggage exercise was enlightening.

I picked it up again, holding the scale and entire weight of the suitcase in one hand. That was what I had been carrying around, day-in, day-out, but had now shed. Needless to say, it made an impression.

I was impressed how ordinary and normal my extra “baggage” was. How easy it was to justify myself, despite the fact that 20 years ago I weighed about 60 pounds less. And how much I was presuming upon my created-by-God body to do in overtime.

I just didn’t realize how much weight I was carrying. [click to continue…]

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You live in what feels like a constant state of tension. Even your “good stress” is, well, stress. You check the news at least each day to make sure you’re on top of the latest thing to worry about. Your time is stretched so thin that any interruption or change of plans sends you reeling emotionally.

Your credit cards are loaded to the max, and your life feels a lot like your email inbox – loaded with clutter, junk, and unfinished business – some of which is actually important.

Your best sleep comes after 2:00 in the morning. You avoid those medical checkups because you already know what they’re going to say. Unless, of course, you need to get that prescription refilled.

And then…

…then, somebody comes along, usually on a Sunday, and says…

“Let’s worship Jesus!”

And honestly, it just feels like another reason to feel anxious.

What if I were to tell you that if you’re harried and helpless, stressed out or fried emotionally, the Bible actually gets where you’re coming from? If I could show you a way to magnificently worship the Lord Jesus, even when you’re at the end of your rope, would you be interested?

This is an Offering for the Overworked, overstressed, overeating, over-fill-in-your-blank.

Ready? Here it is: [click to continue…]

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Elephant Foot

When everything’s urgent and demands attention now…

And everywhere you turn invites stress at best, frustration at worst…

It’s hard to think, much less act, positively.

So remember again how you eat that elephant… [click to continue…]

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icebergs

These are the days of a thousand moving parts.  Things will settle soon, as much as things ever actually “settle” for me, but for the last six months we have been in the process of a major interstate move.  We have moved a household, moved a business, and moved more than a few boxes.

Sometimes there are seasons of “transition.”  That doesn’t even begin to describe this.  And what makes it even heavier is that in the past there have been teams of people – people by the dozen – to help with the process.  This time it’s been the two of us, aided by some herculean efforts of some friends and family.

And should I mention today’s news flash?  I ain’t gettin’ any younger.

All of this on top of a regular work schedule that hasn’t waited for anyone or anything.

We all go through seasons like that – thankful that they’re just seasons.  We move.  We welcome new babies into the family.  We change jobs or careers.  We face upheavals at work.  We take on more than we think we can handle.  We are confronted with a fire or destructive weather event.

And all the parts start moving – some of them groaning all the way. [click to continue…]

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Balance

You can get yourself in serious trouble for using the “B” word in some places.  Easy girls, I don’t mean that one.  I’m talking about balance.

I know several people, in ministry of all places, that come out with guns blazing when people start talking about the search for life balance or balancing the demands of ministry vs. family and all that.  “It’s compromise!” they declare.  “You give all you’ve got to everything that’s important,” or something like that.

I know some other people who sincerely are trying to keep all the plates spinning.  They’ve given up on excellence (sadly) – they’re just looking for survival at work, avoiding bankruptcy, and keeping their kids out of Juvenile Detention.  “Balance” for them would be to somehow crawl out of those holes and get back to ground level.

Soon after I wrote that last post on diligence in leadership, I was reading some assignments for a class I teach, the subject of which was life balance.  About 90% of them lamented something to the effect of “I stink at this!”  Some of what I read broke my heart.  Most of these people are mid-life, mid-career professionals who are in – or are headed for – ministry.  They have kids, parents, congregations, a full-time masters-level school load, and usually a full-time job to go with it.  And here, on Easter week, for crying out loud, we were asking them to write about balance.

All that has my wheels turning and my mental oven preheating.  When something’s still in the oven I like to advertise it, so consider yourself warned.  What follows is half-baked and still in the oven.  But if you’re struggling to find some balance to your life and its multiple demands or feeling guilty because you just can’t seem to keep all the plates spinning, then call a time out.

Stop.

Put these ideas in your oven and let ‘em bake for a while and tell me what comes up. [click to continue…]

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Mountain Steps

When you think you know all the steps ahead, you’re tempted to borrow emotional energy from today’s challenges to deal with tomorrow’s.

Don’t.

The next thing you need to do is the next thing you need to do. [click to continue…]

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inflated gloveThe stress you feel is proportional to the amount of control you have over a situation.

That sounds very intuitive, but there’s a spiritual contradiction to that.  More on that in a minute.

Here’s an example of how that idea works out in the natural.  A month ago I go to the doctor and he says my lipid levels are high.  I roll my eyes and say, “same old same old.” I don’t get stressed about it because there is something I can do to correct it.  Anyway, I’ve been hearing that for 30 years.

When he sends me for another test and I find out my heart calcium score is high, almost in the danger zone, again, the first thing I do is look for something I can do about it, because I have a steadfast belief that I can do something about it.  So I’m motivated, but not stressed.

Same thing goes, even when I’m told I’m a Type II diabetic because of my lifestyle choices in the past.  Well, crud.  But I can do something about that by making different choices (and by the way I am making different choices and seeing wonderful results).

But when the doctor says I have a narrowing in the arteries at the top of my heart and he “wants to take a look at it” with an angiogram, and oh, by the way, if there is a significant enough blockage he may put a stint in it, suddenly he has crossed the line of my control.

Hello stress. [click to continue…]

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