Sirens blaring, dogs barking, tires screeching, angry drivers yelling silent screams and obscene gestures, the constant beat of the rap music rattling my car from three cars away, exhaust fumes, bumper-to-bumper traffic on the interstate and I have a headache in first 10 minutes of venturing out into the real world.
The dictionary calls this cacophony, a harsh, discordant mixture of sounds, clamor, dissonance or noise. We all experience this to some degree when we step outside our homes.
While this is enough to make you want to pull your hair out or stop at the first fast food restaurant to bolster your energy to keep going in what seems to be a dog-eat-dog world, there is something that shouts even louder at us. It’s the noise inside our own heads.
Even as we are driving dodging crazy obstacles in traffic, there is a constant rhetoric of to-do lists, ought-tos, shoulds, musts, and can’t forgets running through our heads. We’re trying to solve all our problems and those of at least 10 family members and friends.
These thoughts go round and round in our heads and end up right back where they started. Then, we add them to the growing noise pile that has been building for years.
We might categorize this endless list that plays on repeat of our mind’s recorder as prayer. However, it cannot be categorized any other way but worry. Worry is prayer, but it is praying to ourselves. We’ve been doing it for years and face it, it doesn’t work.
In the natural we can’t see how we can pay the mortgage payment, afford corrective dental work for our teenager and pay for the new furnace or the work that needs to done on our aging van. So we go over and over it in our minds, thinking of all the scenarios. Eventually it just makes us literally sick.
Extreme stress has been associated with a wide variety of illnesses. Among the most recent is adrenal fatigue syndrome. First coined in 1998 by James Wilson (adrenalfatigue.org), the syndrome has not yet been listed as a “disease” by the Food and Drug Administration. Some call it a “fake disease”. Whether or not it is a bonafide disease is of little consequence to those of us who cannot endure prolonged episodes of extreme stress and overwork.
Some doctors estimate that’s probably more than the 66 percent of us. When a person runs a marathon, he or she usually trains for it for months. Then in a day they run that race full out. Then they go through a period of recovery. As humans we are not meant to run a constant marathon day-in and day-out and especially not a mental marathon.
This constant noise that churns within us has got to stop. Though there are many things that can help such as eating healthy, moderate exercise, drinking plenty of water, taking good vitamin and mineral supplements, getting proper rest and times of refreshment, but we have to understand the only way to stop our brains from spinning into exhaustion is to allow God to take over.
Jesus said, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”1
I longed to live in His unforced rhythms of grace. I’d felt I was carrying a heavy burden of a calling I had to complete perfectly, but in these verses Jesus was telling me that those things that feel like heavy burdens are not from Him. The things from Him will help me live freely and lightly. I was in desperate need of just that.
In January of this year I had been diagnosed with Stage 3 Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome. My symptom was mental exhaustion. My brain shut down by about 6 pm and wouldn’t allow me to work, just rest. The diagnosis didn’t seem to fit me because I was eating right, exercising and doing everything the prescription to turn this disease around says to do.
When my doctor told me I’d been pushing too hard. It quickly reminded me of the words I’d read earlier, Christian Fatigue Syndrome. It happens to those of of who think we are the only ones who can save the world in our specific sphere or metron. I began taking the supplements she prescribed. I’m sure all of those helped.
What helped me the most, though, was to set aside time in the mornings to just be silent, still and present with God. It has been in those times that I have been made aware of the ton of noise in my brain and the amount of time it takes my body to just relax, clear my brain and focus on the Lover of my soul. The one for whom I’d worked myself into exhaustion just held me and told me to stop and let Him take over, really take over. In doing that, He promised to show me how to really rest in Him.
I had been looking at my life by what I can see, touch and understand in the natural world. In this time with God I have been taken to new heights, to an entirely different world that I cannot see in the natural.
In that world, there is a harmonious symphony constantly playing. As I listen and play my part in the symphony there is peace and unity.
When I listen to the noise in my brain, trying to figure everything out on my own and trying to push to make it happen, then the cacophony in my mind gets so loud it makes me nauseous. I have to be in tune with God’s world, the one that in faith I cling to even though I cannot see,2 the one dependent on the energy of a harmonious symphony to make it function.
The various places Scriptures talk about the difference between cacophony and harmony. Amos records God as saying, “I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music. When was the last time you sang to Me?”3
In other versions it says translates “noisy ego-music” as hymns of praise that God hears only as noise because the people were not singing to Him but just to be seen and heard. That’s cacophony to God and it should be to me as well when I recognize my attempts at worship really are only resulting in worshipping the almighty me.
Welcome to the Symphony
Scripture also tells us what true praise to God really is. “What a beautiful thing, God, to give thanks, to sing an anthem to You, the High God! To announce your love each daybreak, sing your faithful presence all through the night, Accompanied by dulcimer and harp, the full-bodied music of strings.”4 That’s the symphony He longs to hear.
Its also the symphony we can enter into with our lives by recognizing there is another dimension we belong to and can live in as we seek to see things His way. It’s the place where His Kingdom comes on earth as it is in Heaven.5
On the Mend
By the way, I’m healing well and my brain is back operating on all cylinders. What I know now is God is not in as big of a hurry as I am most of time. Yes, I feel like time is short to accomplish all God has for me to do. I know, though, if I run ahead of Him what I do will be in my strength and will be useless on His Kingdom.
I want to do what I see my Father doing6 and join Him there. He will direct me and if He doesn’t, then it’s not worth doing. I’ve finally discovered it’s not about pushing, but resting in Him and allowing Him to show me the next step.
For me, it’s not about more knowledge, it’s about trust. It’s not about doing five million things, but it’s putting Jesus at the center of everything. If I am doing that I am doing what needs to be done. And it will be easy if I just follow my Leader.
P.S. There’s a lot that of plans that have been in my brain. I’ve given them all to God one at a time. And He’s giving them back to me one at a time. The first He gave back was Sweet Hunger: Developing An Appetite for God. Final changes have been made and I’m awaiting the finished product. He also gave me the name for the next book and instructed me to begin the process. He showed me writing is my first calling.
Coaching is my second calling. He gave me back Sweet Change Christian Weight Loss Coaching Group. So many want help getting over the hump of feeling stuck on their weight loss journey. This is what we do best in Sweet Change. You want my help? Right now, this is the only place to get it. If you are serious about moving forward, go HERE.
When He tells me more, you’ll be the first to know. Until then, Sweet Grace for your journey.
1Matthew 11:28-30 MSG
2Hebrews 11:1 NIV
3Amos 5:23 MSG
4Psalm 92:1-3 NLT
5Matthew 6:10 NIV
6John 5:19 NLT