Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I Know This isn't Eustress

I read Hans Selye's classic book "The Stress of Life" some years ago, and was caught by the term "eustress" - no rocket science needed to define the term. Good-stress could be harmful in high doses Hans submitted, just as bad stress can.

Halloween has been a season of eustress for me each year. It is filled with tension, and surprises. It has more work involved with it than I should handle. This is true not only for myself, but the poor people who are a part of our church. They follow me faithfully into the night just beyond the Autumnal equinox.

We will run the 10th annual Halloween Children's Day. We will host about 50 people who come from far away to minister on the streets of Salem. We will sponsor about 40 hours of live outdoor music, and give away 8,000 cups of hot cocoa. People will be fed, dreams will be interpreted, movies will be shown, people will be blessed, and we will be over-worked.

These events have been a great joy, and a beautiful experience over the last 7 years.

This year I am not sure that I am feeling the eu- part of the stress. Somewhere in the last year the joy of serving was temporarily robbed, and is returning only slowly.

Is it possible that I am feeling what a person who seems to hate every moment of existence feels? Am I feeling the sensations of a permanent state of dissatisfaction? I have observed people who have acted this way, but I have not experienced permanent antagonism toward life myself - at least not until this year.

Even the things which I typically find joyous have been difficult to accomplish. They come with a sense of dread, weariness, or disinterest. Every now and then, the old joys surface, and with them come the excitement of the need for flexibility, and spontanaiety which is part of Halloween in Salem, MA. Although I am sure this season will deliver me from the doldrums, I am still struggling with loss of the eu- on this season's stress.

In two days it will be anniversary of the greatest treachery I have experienced from the hand of any leader in church life. I think to myself, "Get over it Wyman." This silly event shouldn't bother you so much, and yet I feel in my belly, and discover in my head that I carry the dissatisfaction with life which I have seen in others who somehow have been stricken with a similar affliction.

My affliction is light, but I write about it to chronicle a sickness which may well be spread through oppression, lies, and hypocrisy in people holding leadership in religious circles.

Oppressors steal eu- from seasons of stress, and perhaps from life itself.

So I wonder - whatever happened to Jesus' promise? You know, "My yoke is easy, my burden is light." Shouldn't that be the experience of serving God? It sounds as though He knew how to keep the eu- in His stress, and has a few lessons to teach me still.


Mike said...

phil why guy,

i too have a hard time with that light burden stuff. i don't know how to interpret that in light of experience.

Pastor Phil said...

I suppose interpreting it might be part of my problem in the first place. Somehow people like Brother Lawrence discovered it by being and doing - not thinking. I haven't found that place yet. Maybe I need to re-think - or perhaps re-pent.

Anonymous said...

With a name like this, you wonder at the loss of eu-catastrophe in your life? Try changing it to HowMan. I've found that this helps a little to aleviate bad stress (a name change). When Jesus changed his disciples' names, it seemed sometimes to be the opposite of who they actually were in their natural identity. For example Peter was an impetuous, unstable character - full of vim and vigor -- but hardly a "rock" (petros). Perhaps your inner character is too questioning (Why?).
I advise you to stop naming yourself. Let God name you. I don't mean this flippantly.
You're a wise and good hearted man by all counts. "HowMan" fits you too -- as a result of the grace of doing for others...that's "how" its done.
Pax Vobiscum

Pastor Phil said...

Hey Pax Vobiscum,

If you haven't noticed, I didn't give myself the name. It's simply a pun on my last name.

I don't like HowMan. It just sounds too much like all the Christians I know who think they know "how" everything in the world works. A little mystery is fine with me.

When Jesus gives me a new name I'll use that one.

Mike said...

Oh phil PLEASE don't change into the howman. i hate that guy. he is always telling me that i am not getting the christian life right and that if i would just read this book or follow that program or take these steps then i would get it right and be happy.

no no, jesus came for the sick - those who are well don't need a doctor and i think he would say he comes to those who ask why and those who already know how don't need him.

Anonymous said...

The yoke being easy, the burden being light..... I've heard Christians say to other Christians who are having a hard time that they should 'give it up to God'. I wonder if that is an element of the light burden. But I'm also aware that what they mean really is that they should ask God to lift the burden and sometimes they find that God is allowing them to have the burden for a reason... so they can maybe learn something about serving God. That doesn't always help the person who is asking for relief from the burden of course. But I've also heard it said that God doesn't expect his people to carry more than they are able to. Again, they may often wonder if they are able to carry what they have to bear. But they seem to be able to just the same. It is also the case that quite often they haven't a clue what they are supposed to be learning with the burden, or when (or IF) the burden will ever be lifted. So many conundrums in carrying burdens and the like.

Ultimately, I suppose the believer in Christ can only comfort themselves with the thought that God knows what he is doing.

I'm rambling again. :)

Hugs Bro.


Matt Stone said...


Its only now that I am starting to hear the substance of what happened. Knew you'd experienced some rough times but knew little beyond that till recently. Mate, be aware that you have supporters in far lands. Stay true.