Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Stressed Out

I have a friend in Texas who is a doctor, and he told me once that probably 80% of the people he sees are really coming for stress-related illnesses. Stress is a badge of honor in our society now. If you're not stressed out, something's wrong.

If you're not worrying about the next hurricane, you're probably worried about rising gas prices -- or the war in Iraq -- or whether or not gay people will be allowed to get married -- or Harriet Miers' Supreme Court nomination -- or the state of your church -- or real estate prices -- or your kids -- or your marriage -- or your parents' declining health -- or your declining health -- or what might happen this weekend -- or what happened last weekend -- or whether you'll get the promotion -- or if you'll be able to find a babysitter for your job interview next Monday morning.

On and on it goes. We wear stress like a badge of honor. And it manifests its negative consequences in physical problems, emotional problems, relational problems, spiritual problems. We're stressed out and exhausted, and we don't seem to know what to do about it.

I had a conversation with a very good friend of mine recently. You know -- one of those friends I've known for forever -- a guy who is almost more like a brother than a friend. And we've been getting on each other's nerves for the past couple of months. We couldn't figure out what the problem was exactly. I just think we didn't really like each other that much for a while.

And then it hit me: I'm so drained that I can't give anyone my undivided attention. Not myself. Not my wife. Not my kids. Certainly not this friend.

So, this marginlessness life I've been living has impacted (negatively) the conversations I've had with and about my friend. If I was rested, if I was living at a sane pace, we could have unguarded conversations where we shared openly and freely. But because I am too tired to do that, I end up saying things I shouldn't say and reacting in ways I know aren't helping anyone.

My stress is threatening my health and my relationships. Yet I still continue to feed the monster.

Is it just me, or does anyone else feel this way?

Does anyone have any suggestions?