My ability to compartmentalize life is both a weakness and a strength. I can be like a filing cabinet where I pull out the “counseling folder” as I deal with deep sadness in someone’s life. Afterwards I put that folder away and move onto something else with a generally positive attitude. I can seem naively optimistic, uncaring, or disconnected from people’s struggles. Escapism, checking out – these are the dangers of my ability to “turn off” (to some degree) my thinking and emotions on a certain subject. Apart from God’s grace this is the way I’ll deal with difficulty and stress, becoming fragmented and not appropriately loving others as God would have me.
The other side of my ability to compartmentalize is that I’m able to disconnect and step out from under the burdens finding rest from pressure and anxiety. Ultimately I need to decompress by trusting God. He is the one who does not sleep. He is the one who does not go away on vacation. He is the one who’s shoulders can carry the weight of all this world’s sin and sadness. So when he tells me to rest, to go away, I try to listen. When he tells me to care, to mourn, to hurt, I try to listen.
As we head into church planting I am tempted towards anxiety more than ever before. So it is good for me to listen to God’s voice that tells me to care and to relax. I try and trust him while getting all the mileage I can out of my laid back disposition without going over the cliff.
Being away for a week, I was able to rest in many ways and when we returned to church on Sunday morning, our relaxed state was noticed. I guess that I was carry a visible weight of stress without realizing it. A phrase I came across recently, “exhaustion as a status symbol” has stuck with me. To some degree I have embraced the lies, “Because I’m busy I’m important.” “Because I’m busy, things will work out right.” “Because I am busy, I am secure.” At other times in life I’ve been pulled towards the lie that freedom is zero responsibilities. Every commitment is a chain and only when they are broken will I experience life. I fluctuate between different distorted understandings of happiness, rest, and work. And as I write, here is what I need to come back to:
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.