I am of the generation that has seen the birth and rapid maturity of the internet. I was always a couple of years behind my peers with the latest tech… getting a discman, a beeper, a digital camera, a cell phone. It wasn’t until after I finished grad school in 2001 that I actually purchased my own laptop. But now, my husband keeps me current w/ the latest and the greatest (although I still resist, bc I will forever love pen and paper), and the internet is now inextricably weaved through my life, primarily for business, typically for convenience, and occasionally for social media. Even now, I am writing on Google Drive – it’s just so much more accessible than MS Word. When I have time to write, I can retrieve this blog from my cell, from my laptop, anytime, anywhere there’s internet access. And nowadays, that access is everywhere. It’s constant. We can plug in anytime. And we’re virtually always virtually plugged in. Web life is real life, and real life is filled with strife and packed tight, and information abounds but few question the source of the information they read or the moral and spiritual implications of the videos and posts and chatter they soak up incessantly. And it’s a great, big, insidious, dangerous problem. On so many levels. Individually. Socially. Culturally. Biochemically. I can only scratch the surface.
As a healthcare provider, I see stress everyday. It’s a root cause of so many symptoms, a primary causative factor in so many diseases, and an aggravating factor in just about every ailment. In medical terms, stress is the generalized response of the body to environmental demands or pressures. In psychological terms, stress is defined as the emotional experience of a perceived threat, accompanied by biochemical, physiological, and behavioral changes such that we can fight or flee from that threat (or sometimes we freeze up, hence the “fight-flight-or-freeze” response.)
In my writer’s wordy nature, I thought about giving you half a dozen examples of specific scenarios in which your stress response would be triggered. But you already know it. You experience it all the time, at work, in your home, with your bills, with the customer service rep. You see it on the news, in our city’s challenges, our nation’s politics, in the global terrors that strike horrifically too often. You feel it in your health, you’re tired but wired, your hormones are off, you’re anxious or depressed or both, you have strange symptoms that aren’t showing up on any labs, you have problems with your gut. (This is why I offer adrenal stress testing and treatment. The need is so great, the stress is so pervasive, the health ramifications are so vast. But there is so much more hope. The treatments are effective. Healing happens when we partner as a team).
In the simplest of terms, stress is pressure. It’s overwhelm. It’s too much for too long. We are plugged in to too many things all at once, and the beautiful simplicity of life, the purity of one thing at a time, the joy of taking one’s time, and the restoration of rest, are altogether lost.
But there is something we can do.
It’s a biblical term of Hebrew origin. It means “to pause and reflect.”
Appearing primarily in the Psalms of David, it was used liturgically to emphasize a pause in the singing, a time to reflect on the lyrics that were just sung. No voices were heard during this pause, but the note of an instrument may have risen up. Hence, a fuller understanding of the meaning of Selah would be “to pause and reflect; to pause and carefully consider,” while also meaning, “to rise up, to lift up; to lift God up in prayer, praising Him in the highest form of praise man is able to give.”
As a response to stress.
Pause and reflect.
Without moving, without taking in anything more… just PAUSE.
Cease from all your doings.
Lift God up in your thoughts.
In your heart.
Give Him your time.
Consider Him above everything else.
Before you hasten back to work.
Before you rush to take another selfie for your Facebook post.
Before you hurry to your next hair appointment.
Before you run out to purchase the newest iphone.
Before you fill your mind with the latest CNN images.
Before you scroll through the newsfeed.
Before you pick up your phone.
Before you sit at your computer.
It’s no light suggestion.
It’s an imperative.
Medical science confirms the need to rest – for the sake of your health and adrenal hormones and sex hormones and your neurotransmitter levels and your blood pressure and your inflammatory processes and your digestive and immune functions.
Social psychology confirms the need to rest –
for the sake of your relationships with real-life people in your actual (not virtual) lives who need you to be present and attentive.
The holy scriptures confirm God’s invitation to rest – For the sake of your spiritual health and your relationship with God who calls us all into an intimate relationship with Him. "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matt 11:28)
You’ve got to pause from it all. Intentionally and carefully (there goes the drunken stupor or temporary escapist-distraction). In that pause, in that reflective prayer, comes wisdom, creativity, and renewal that only God can provide. The scientific health benefits are certainly waiting. But remember that you are more than just your blood cells and neuronal firings. You are first a spiritual being in a physical body. Made in the image of God.
Pause and reflect.
“When I consider your heavens,
The work of your fingers,
The moon and the stars,
Which you have set in place,
What is mankind that you are mindful of them,
Human beings that you care for them?
[Yet] You have made them a little lower than the angels
And crowned them with glory and honor.”