Living in Overdrive
By Ben KC Lee
Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2009
What is living in overdrive? Perhaps this may give a clue - the average office worker is interrupted 202 times a day. Then Ecclesiastes 2 talks about anxious striving.
In the past, most people took two weeks off work, went back to work and were okay for a year. An Israeli study on burnout I read some time back showed that people take two weeks off a year, return to work and after three weeks in the job, they are on baseline burnout.
Living in overdrive is like overloading an electrical outlet and blowing a fuse. It happens when anxiety grows for fear of being unable to accomplish all the tasks at one's usually high standards. As anxiety grows, a sense of hopelessness sets in. Insomnia, especially awakening in the middle of the night and worrying about the uncompleted tasks, leaves one exhausted the next morning. Many are exhausted but do not drop activities because they want to avoid the stigma of being a quitter.
Watch Out For
The symptoms are insomnia, depression, anxiety, and chest pain. For some it is migraine headaches, withdrawal, irritability and work dread.
The thing is we have got threshold line called a 24-hour day. Health problems are nature's way of saying, "slow down". God designed our bodies to be very adaptable. He also invented the stress mechanism. Low or no stress can be very boring. Hyper-stress can make a person very sick.
When we are going too fast, we cross a line of dysfunction called hurry. This hurry sickness is the new epidemic in urban society. When we are going at the speed of light, there isn't time to think, reflect and pray.
Some times it is the schedule. Sometimes it is an internal workaholic compulsion. Overload takes the spiritual vitality out of us. When God taps us on the shoulder, and we give him the busy signal. We don't have any more emotional fuel to give to family or friends.
Usually the hardworking, previously optimistic people are most prone. They are most often asked to take on extra roles. Know any one like that?
Defusing the Overloaded Life
That Israeli study shows we can't store up all our needs for holidays. We got to learn the secret of renewal on an ongoing basis. Here are three ways to restore emotional, physical, spiritual and time reserves to overloaded lives.
01. Come to Christ
He offers solutions to those whose lives are out of control.
Jesus: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
Jesus offers resources to make our lives worth living. He says, "Come to me." When you feel depleted and wonder how you will face another day; tell Jesus how you feel. Recover some green pastures and still waters where He restores your soul.
The habit of quiet keeps balance in a frantic world. Schedule conversation times where you offload stresses unto the shoulders of Jesus and leave them there. Prayer times can be therapeutic. Enjoy time with Jesus.
02. Learn from Christ
Jesus: "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Matthew 11:29
Trusting Jesus is learned behaviour. And learning takes time. There is no quick fix for a life out of control. Jesus constantly withdrew from the frantic pace of ministry to a lonely place where he would recharge.
If we are angry, grumpy most of the time and dream of escape, these are the cries of our soul, reminding us of our limits. No one can continue running on empty and not suffer the consequences. Perhaps it's time to start learning the life of Jesus.
03. Rest like Christ
Jesus: "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Mathew 11:30
Schedule times for rest and for relationships. Jesus spent time in a safe house with Lazarus, Mary and Martha. Friends save us from sinking under overload. Schedule times to be with family. This is our natural support system.
Hebrews 4:10 remind us that we need God's rest inside my soul and we also need physical rest. It's wise to rest like Christ.
In closing, we all live in overload from time to time. The point is not to live there all the time. This does not mean avoiding additional challenges when they can be managed adequately.
This means to ask God for an awareness of our priorities.
Have you noticed that ministry, for Jesus, was the person in front of him? He did not heal every sick person. He healed the person in front of him. He loved the person. Similarly God wants us to love this person in front of us. In the end, it's about love.
"This is all that I have learned: God made us plain and simple, but we have made ourselves very complicated." Ecclesiastes 7:29 (Good News)
First published in The Christian Post Singapore. Online: http://sg.christianpost.com/dbase/editorial/419/section/1.htm