Decompress by Erny McDonough

Archived in the category: Featured Writers, General Info
Posted by Joyce Rhyne on 19 Oct 17 - 0 Comments

Writer George Grant wrote: “At the end of the thirteenth century when the Norman English bowmen began to pioneer the powerful new military technology of the long bow, they discovered that the very best precaution that a bowman could take for his weapon was simply to unstring the bow when it was not in use. To release the tension, relax the pressure, and relieve the strain allowed the bow to last longer, snap back faster, and set arrows to flight further. A bow that was never unstrung would quickly lose its effectiveness. A bow that was never relaxed became useless as an offensive weapon.”

Jesus said to His followers: “Come with me by ourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

Maybe it is just me, but I surely have been under a lot of pressure lately! Some have called in “Harvey Heaviness”! We have such schedule-demanding work that we must not underestimate our need to periodically relax, laugh, have fun, engage in activities that renew us emotionally, and in general, decompress.

I read recently that most of us have an idol of exhaustion. The only time we know we have done enough is when we are running on empty and when the ones we love most are the ones we see the least. When we fall down in bed to sleep at night, we offer our full appointment calendars to God, instead of praying, believing that God – Who surely must be as busy as we are – will truly understand!

Symptoms of exhaustion look a lot like discouragement, which manifests itself like this: an inability to enjoy simple pleasures; a lack of motivation; tormenting thoughts that tear away at our sense of identity and accomplishment; relationships that are not working; high levels of internalized anger; vulnerability to temptation; and a general sense of living under a cloud. Our enemy (the devil) intentionally exploits unregulated exhaustion to gain a new foothold in our lives. He wants to take us out physically, emotionally, and spiritually while God is working to keep us in the race for the long run. Rest is much more than a selfish indulgence; it is a part of our battle strategy.

I learned this principle first hand, which was taught to me by some volunteers at the Warrior’s Weekend. We all had cracked “thousands” of eggs the evening before, and had arrived at the Community Center before 3:00 a.m. All of us were working tired. We needed someone to drive my pickup to H.E.B. in Port Lavaca to retrieve the milk, chocolate milk, orange juice, etc., the things we could not refrigerate locally. I was asking for a special volunteer who would stop what they were doing and run this errand. Someone said, “Pastor, go yourself!” I protested that I had too many things to accomplish to make sure those breakfast tacos were ready to 7:15. “Go, it will give you an hour break and provide you with much needed rest.”

At first, I was incensed – did anyone think I needed a break or rest! Others had been working right alongside me and needed just as much rest as I. Protesting did no good, so I went, had people load the products in the pickup, drove them back, and others unloaded. AND, I felt much better!

Recently, a pastor called saying they needed some of our help for their event to help with hurricane relief. I told him that I would gladly share, but he would personally have to come and retrieve it! Then I told him my experience at the Warrior’s Weekend. He came and said it was the most restful time of the week!
Some have said that we think we are too important to allow others to help us and to personally take a break – and in my case I might admit to being guilty! It could be a bit of pride or super ego! It could be that we want to feel needed so we push ourselves to the limits of our endurance – maybe a bit of lack in our self-image. Most of us need to trust God and allow Him to take care of things for a while!

One has said that we also might be fighting a false guilt when we rest. That is me too much of the time! But guilt is like cholesterol – there is the good kind and the bad kind. There is “Godly sorrow” and “worldly sorrow.” Separating true conviction from the Holy Spirit from the false guilt that has been so familiar to most of us is probably a lifetime journey. Yet pacing ourselves, replenishing physically and emotionally, and doing what it takes to be healthy and durable is worth the battle against false guilt. I truly need to remember that self-denial and self-neglect are two very different things.

It is not just the preachers who need this lesson, but all of us need to learn to follow the words of Jesus, “Get some rest!” Decompress!

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