“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”
~Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV)
I’ve been spending some time lately trying to find ways to more effectively deal with stress. Since being diagnosed with an auto immune disease, one thing I have noticed is that my symptoms get much worse when I am undergoing stress. Primarily, this applies to major stress, but I started wondering if my symptoms would improve if I minimized the daily stresses of life.
I began looking online for ways to minimize stress. While I did find some great information, there is one bit of wisdom that has helped me more than anything else. I found it in the Bible, in the Book of Ecclesiastes.
Most people, even those who are not avid Bible readers, are familiar with Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. If you ever saw the movie “Footloose” in the 1980s, it’s the passage that Kevin Bacon reads in his plea to allow dancing in his community.
The passage tells us that there is a season for everything in life and goes on to list some very opposite things-tearing down and building, weeping and laughing, and yes, Kevin Bacon, mourning and dancing.
I began to wonder what that wisdom looked like funneled down, not in terms of a full life, but simply one day in my life. Solomon, who wrote Ecclesiastes with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is said to be the wisest man that ever lived. I knew there was more to this passage than meets the eye.
In this age of social media, people spend their vacations taking and posting photos. Concert goers view their event through the lens of their smart phone video camera. Diners “check-in” to let their social media friends know, not only where they are eating, but who they are dining with.
While I’m not real big on doing those specific things, I am guilty of not always living in the present moment. Once I purposely decided to do so, I noticed that my stress level immediately improved. So, what does living in the moment look like?
When I go to work, I am not only physically, but also mentally, present. I’m not worried about checking social media or my personal e-mail. I don’t surf the internet or check the news. I am very far from being the perfect employee, but I found that when I set aside all those distractions, work became much less stressful for me.
At home, when my son starts to tell me about his latest project, I put down my phone or turn my head from the computer and try to really listen to what he is saying. I am fully present as his mom and, in turn, I have been greatly blessed by our conversations.
My son, Eric, and I were recently on vacation. I didn’t check my work e-mail or post on social media. I was “present” at the beach and it turned out to be one of the most relaxing vacations I’ve had in a long time.
When I’m at the gym, I put my earbuds in and stay focused on my workout. (Or I watch Food Network while walking on the treadmill #balance) What I’m not doing is thinking about what I have to do when I get home or texting or checking social media. (This would end poorly for me if I was walking on the treadmill anyway!) I’m present in the moment and my workouts have actually become enjoyable. (Did I just say that?)
The reality of life is that unless you live in a bubble, stress happens. I like my job, but some days it’s overwhelming. I love my life, but there will always be bills to pay, medical issues to treat, and relationships to maintain. By following the wisdom in this Scripture, I have found life to be more manageable. I’m less stressed, blessed, relaxed and enjoying life. Now that, Kevin Bacon, is reason to dance.