Health and Healing. Day seven...
As a boy on the farm, I was not always the most highly motivated worker. One of Dad's favorite expressions was, “Mike, you're walking around like the dead lice're falling off you!” If I was moving so slowly that lice would have to die and fall off of me, I suppose I must have been barely moving.
Although I probably looked like I was lazy, I wasn't lazy. I just wasn't motivated. Doing Dad's work didn't motivate me, but daydreaming about the work that I would do someday did motivate me.
And when I began to do my own work I just assumed that the more I worked the more I would achieve in life. As we discussed yesterday, this is true for human achievement.
Single people who are following their own agendas (and that includes many, if not most, Christians) can pursue their own dreams, free from any responsibility for other people.
That's what I did, and what most other singles do. Living a balanced life as a single person is fairly simple, since it's all about “me.”
Inventor, engineer, and physicist Nicola Tesla, who was single for his entire life, had this to say about pursuing his dreams: “I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success... Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything.”
But singles tend to marry, and couples tend to have children. Then all of a sudden a man (or woman) cannot forget “food, sleep, friends, love, everything.” And balance becomes incredibly difficult, usually creating stress.
In 1936, Hans Selye defined the term “stress” as “the non‐specific response of the body to any demand for change.”
Stress is not limited to the Career Mom who is trying to find balance between a demanding board of directors, a husband with a demanding job, a house full of kids, and an ailing mother. The surfer living on the beach in Hawaii also experiences stress—with every challenging wave.
The body responds in the same way to stressors whether or not the “change” is enjoyable. In other words your body will respond in the same way to a thrill as it does to a threat. But the body can handle only so many stressors before it is negatively affected.
According to the American Institute of Stress, numerous emotional and physical disorders have been linked to stress. Here are just a few:
- heart attacks
- immune system disturbances that increase susceptibility to infections
- viral linked disorders ranging from the common cold and herpes to AIDS and certain cancers
- autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
We tend to tolerate these emotional and physical disorders as just the unavoidable consequences of living in the modern age.
And this tolerance greatly affects the types of treatments we have developed for these disorders. We ask the question: “How do we treat these conditions?” But a better question to ask would be: “Are we treating conditions that should not even exist?”
Can you see how becoming absolutely convinced that God wants you to live in health would change things?
The revelation that we are not supposed to be having heart attacks or strokes or autoimmune diseases as a result of the work we do would cause us to look at our lives very differently.
Some people have already done so by choosing to live a simpler lifestyle—by moving from the corporate boardrooms of Manhattan to the storefronts of quiet towns in rural America. But not everyone can move back to nature. We need people to work those jobs that unfortunately come with lots of stressors attached—we need enlisted military personnel, emergency personnel, corporate executives, miners, taxi drivers, and countless other professionals who make modern life possible.
How do we make sense of all this?
Maybe we need to think about the unthinkable, and consider the question: “Is it possible that I'm suffering because I've been following my plans for my life rather than God's plans for my life?”
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. (Jeremiah 29:11 KJV)
God has thoughts about your life—your purpose for being born, the work He envisions you doing. And His thoughts are nothing but peace. His plans for your life don't promote stress, because stress can't survive God's peace.
This does not, however, mean you can't be a firefighter, a buyer for a large retailer, or any other professional in a career that normally generates a lot of stressors. This does not mean that all your plans are necessarily the wrong plans for you. They might be. But they might, instead, just need a few changes. You'll never know, though, unless you ask God what His plans are.
Don't be afraid to ask. Don't be afraid to listen for His response.
Have a good weekend,