Time to Slow Down

Jul 10, 2024

"Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own because Christ Jesus has made me His own." (Philippians 3:12)

Are you stressed, not getting enough sleep, or rushed at mealtime? Is technology moving faster than you can keep up with? Chances are that your great-great-grandparents were dealing with the same feelings.

More than a century ago, experts concluded that Americans were stressed out and overworked, impacting their health. In a 2015 magazine article from the Smithsonian, Greg Daugherty outlines the history of this problem. He said experts in the late 1800s noticed that this American work ethic and go-getter spirit might have been a form of mental illness.

At the time, psychologists and doctors were calling this illness "Americanitis." They were discovering a connection between a fast-paced life and all kinds of health issues, such as high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, heart attack, nervous exhaustion, and even insanity. It wasn't long before the term "Americanitis" had spread beyond the medical journals into everyday vocabulary, and it became slang for people who were always in a hurry and worried a lot.

The medicine industry took advantage of this and created an "Americanitis" elixir that promised relief to overworked businessmen and nervous, run-down women. The elixir included a lot of alcohol and a little chloroform...Yikes!

One self-help author, Elbert Hubbard, described the mentality as "An intense desire to get there and an awful feeling that you cannot."

I think "Americanitis" is probably still a problem today. It's not an illness but more of a way of life that we have adopted: this overwhelming desire to get "there." But where is "there?" Many people never feel satisfied with their accomplishments. They keep grasping, keep running, and keep working to get more. We even put pressure on our kids to live at this pace.

We must stay busy but need to find out where it will lead us. We all know what being overworked and running around in a hurry feels like because most of us live this way. The fast-paced lifestyle can sometimes lead us to a state of survival. Some symptoms of survival mode are frequently waking up between 3 and 5 am. Our body releases a hormone called cortisol when we're stressed out. Cortisol is supposed to be at its lowest in the middle of the night so we can sleep through the night. But when you're stressed out, your cortisol levels are high, and it wakes you up.

Another symptom is you no longer get excited about things. You lose your joy in life. Or you're always tired, no matter how much sleep you get. You begin to lose contact with the people you love, isolate yourself, and withdraw. Becoming overly emotional is another symptom. Feelings like anger and frustration come quickly. You cry more frequently or more easily than you used to.

Is this you?

You may need to take a moment to slow down and catch your breath. I love what the Apostle Paul said to the Philippian church, "Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own because Christ Jesus has made me His own." (Philippians 3:12 ESV).

Paul says we've got to press on. However, we must press on toward the right things. To focus on the right things, we have to slow down. We can't stop working. We can't stop being a spouse or a parent. We all have responsibilities. We've got to continue to show up.

How do we slow down to press on? One helpful strategy is to reset and refocus.

Think about it like this: what's the first thing you usually do when your iPhone is not working or your computer is messing up? Turn it off and turn it back on. 90% of the time, that fixes it. What if that was the case for us mentally, physically, and emotionally? What if we turned some things off to do a reset?

If we continue to press on and stay busy with the wrong things, the result will be emptiness, exhaustion, and eventually survival mode. We must slow down before we press on any further and turn our focus on what God calls us to do. We must create space for new habits that allow us to hear from God consistently.

So, what do you need to turn off in your life for a season? Social media? TV? Bad habits? YouTube? Computer? What if you turned some things off to create a new habit of prayer and reading the Bible? What if you erased the negative voices in your life and opened yourself up to Godly people who want to help you grow?

To press on toward God's calling on your life, you must stay connected to God's Word and people and be willing to obey God's plan.


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