Fight, Flight or…

“For my yolk is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:30

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The Fight or Flight Response is a physiological reaction to a perceived threat, seen in the animal kingdom, as well as in most homes going through the challenge of raising three boys.
It was discovered by Walter Cannon, who believed that animals respond to threats with guidance from the sympathetic nervous system, which releases hormones prepping them to survive an attack.  I recently read an article which spoke about this response and it’s place in today’s world.  The idea presented was that this natural response has become somewhat counterproductive when it isn’t often realistic to fight or flight in many of our daily 21st century lives.  This is the quote I found most interesting:

“In most cases today, once our fight or flight response is activated, we cannot flee. We cannot fight. We cannot physically run from our perceived threats. When we are faced with modern day, saber tooth tigers, we have to sit in our office and “control ourselves.” We have to sit in traffic and “deal with it.” We have to wait until the bank opens to “handle” the bounced check. In short, many of the major stresses today trigger the full activation of our fight or flight response, causing us to become aggressive, hyper vigilant and over-reactive. This aggressiveness, over-reactivity and hyper vigilance cause us to act or respond in ways that are actually counter-productive to our survival. Consider road rage in Los Angeles and other major cities.
It is counterproductive to punch out the boss (the fight response) when s/he activates our fight or flight response. (Even though it might bring temporary relief to our tension!) It is counterproductive to run away from the boss (the flight response) when s/he activates our fight or flight response.”*

My typical physical response to a daily life “threat” is to work harder, make longer to-do lists and stay awake later.  I also end up mentally psyching myself out with all the “what if’s” that pop into my head.  All too often, I end up turning to human resources to interpret what God wants me to do with a stressful situation rather than asking God himself, who made me, what I should do.  I’ve even found myself turning to food, which temporarily numbs the pain of stress by introducing a temporary distraction that instantly gratifies.  Each of these options are reactive, unhealthy and completely take God out of the equation.
How does the creator of the universe suggest I deal with stress?

“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yolk upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yolk is easy and my burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28-30)

Unlike the stress of an unreasonable deadline or unfulfilled expectations or all the other “modern day saber tooth tigers”, God’s yolk is easy and his burden is light.  He calls me to learn from him and walk daily with Him, not simply visit in crisis.  His will for my life is purpose filled, merciful and just.  The more I know of God and his commands, the more His way makes my triggers melt and my vision come into focus.  I don’t need hyper vigilance because God keeps me.

Challenge: If I want God to be my stress management system, I must take on his yolk.  This means I am to know him and have a relationship with His Spirit, His Ways, His Sacrifice.  I will spend time every day, excited to learn more about Him and His will for my life, now and in eternity.

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Dear Lord, Your wisdom transcends all human understanding.  Your name is I Am; you are all that was, is, and will be.  I have nothing to fear because I am your child.  Please let me put aside the temporary stresses of this world in exchange for your vision and your call to a life transformed.  I love you and I want to know you.  Thank you for walking alongside me.  Amen.


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About messyworship

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I believe that you can bump into God outside of a Sunday morning church service. That is what Messy Worship is: a written meditation with an authentic, transparent take on the Bible's application to today's world. This is where I challenge myself to blurr the line between "life" and "worship" so much that the line disappears a little more each day. I hope, by sharing what I learn, the idea of a seamless life of worship becomes contagious.

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    What an amazing post Emily! How true and how raw. I loved, learned and definitely related!

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