Wading Through the Stress

Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”                                                                                                                                                                                Matthew 22:37-40 (The Message)

I discussed in yesterday’s blog about a situation when Jesus got angry. He was responding to the rigid religious leaders who had not been able to discern the Spirit of the law of God from the letter of the law. Failure to interpret what pleases God means that we have looked through the wrong lens in trying to see Him. Jesus was clear that the lens though which we must look for God is through love, not man-made rules of laws.

There are a lot of things that can get in the way of us seeing God and one another. We are made with an incredible nervous system, which includes certain neural pathways that are excited when we are stressed or when we perceive danger. These pathways are meant for our good and our protection. A few days ago, I spoke about the “fight, flight, freeze” phenomenon which comes into play when those neural pathways are aroused by a perceived threat. One of the interesting things about that process is that we are wired for survival, and those responses of how we see one another can be skewed if we feel threatened.

When we are in a hyperarousal state, we are inclined to see even neutral stimuli as negative or threatening. It comes as no surprise that in the current state of political and health-scare tensions, we may tend to see neutral stimuli as a threat. Hence, we are seeing some incredible over-reactions to what seems to be neutral, fact-based observations.

Such are some of the discussions that are taking place on social media, where even innocuous statements may feel inflammatory and in need of defensive response. We are all experiencing a hyperarousal state where we feel uncertain and fearful, even powerless. Unfortunately, sometimes that leads to responses that we normally might not make.

So, we acknowledge that we are all very stressed, and we are feeling threatened by things around us that are scary and confusing. The lens through which we must look is loving our neighbors as ourselves. Then we will be able to see more clearly how to proceed.

Prayer: Father, we are pressed on all sides with stress. Help us see through the stress in a loving manner, Amen.

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