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Stressed out

"Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." Mark 6. 31

It is moving to think that, in the midst of the three years of hectic ministry that Jesus had, with so much to pack in while there was time, Jesus still noticed when his closest companions needed a break. Sometimes we are so intent on working through our own agendas that we are not so considerate, whether towards our colleagues, our families, even ourselves. We inhabit unforgiving times; the better known we are, the more interest others take in what we do and the more likely they are to come down in judgment when we fail to fulfil expectations.

All of this adds to our stress. A certain amount of pressure is good, it keeps us focussed and evokes our best. But we all have levels beyond which further pressure becomes harmful and eventually unsustainable. How particularly tragic that we often compound our unease but adding to it. We load ourselves with unrealistic expectations, take on too many responsibilities, agonise over matters we shouldn't. Sometimes it's habitual, sometimes the result of a particular issue or situation. We get locked into a kind of slavery. We need a liberator, a saviour even!

Jesus proclaimed that his desire for each of us is "abundant life". I say "each of us" but I don't mean that in an individualistic way because I don't believe Jesus meant it in an individualistic way either. As a social species we function best when we flourish together. This is important because, in reaching for a better life, a life that is richer yet less stressful, we must not be selfish about it, or the very thing we strive for will elude us. When Jesus noticed his disciples' need and called them away to a quiet place, he called them together. Why not look around and see if you notice anyone close to you who could use a break, even a brief and socially-distanced one! Invite them to come away from the source of their tension for a walk, a chat, a prayer. Be aware that it is Jesus who invites you and, if appropriate, share that insight with whomever is with you...



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