Theme of the Week: Stress
Bible Verse: “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said…” Genesis 1:2-3a
Scripture Reading: Genesis 2:7
There’s a fascinating moment in the creation story. God is about to speak light, sky, land and seas and vegetation, stars, “every living thing”, and of course mankind, into existence. He brings order into what was previously formless, empty, and dark. But before he speaks into the cosmos and creates life, the text tells us what God did in preparation the moments before speaking.
How did the triune God prepare for creation? He hovered. He remained in one place for some time. Where did he hover? Over the waters, a symbolic, and often literal, place of chaos.
The Hebrew word for spirit and breathe are the same, ruach. Genesis might therefore paint us this picture: Before God spoke creation and brought order, his breath hovered over the chaos.
When we face stress or disorder in our lives, taking a moment to hover and breathe is a great practice. It’s not uncommon for talk-therapy clients entering a session to “ground” themselves with their therapist at the beginning of each session. This might look like bringing awareness to the breath going in and out of your nostrils, feeling the ends of your toes inside your shoes, or some other mindful technique. The point is, when a client is under stress and facing disorder in their life, it’s not uncommon to “hover” before attempting to collaborate towards order and relief.
We feel stressed when we feel pressure—the continuous force of uncertainty and expectations. It makes us feel anxious, irritable, quick-tempered, angry, reactionary, and overwhelmed, among other undesirable things.
How can we deal with stress and pressure? Well, a lot more to be said on that. But for now, before we endeavor to bring order out of the chaos that can overwhelm our lives, we ought to slow down and catch our breath.
Right now, breathe in for a slow count of three… and out for a slow count of three.
Repeat three times (or as many as you’d like) and watch for two things. First, the body starts to calm down. Second, allow clarity around what it is exactly that is stressing you out to rise to the surface. Observe it and keep breathing.
By doing so, we mimic God’s first interaction with chaos. Before dealing with the world, first, catch your breath.
Prayer: God of creation, thank you for bringing order from chaos. Thank you that you are a God of order. In the chaos of my life, help me to take a moment to breathe, to take time to understand the situation as best I can and not to simply react.
Reflection: What is your initial response to stress? Spend some time thinking about how stress affects your mind and your emotions. How does it impact your relationships?
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