Right in the centre of the stress pandemic sits a six-letter word. Apparently innocent and the innocuous, it contains a catalogue of components which, individually or combined, create the conditions for stress to flourish.
That word is ‘change’, and it comes camouflaged in a thousand different costumes, colours and uniforms which is why it is not so easy to pin down.
There is a word in physiology, homeostasis, which describes the human body’s systemic approach to maintaining a stable internal environment. Your body works very hard to keep a stable temperature, too high and you get feverish, too low and you get hypothermia. If the body can’t keep within a pretty small temperature range, you cannot survive. This applies to hydration, to acidity, blood chemistry and many other measures. Surviving and thriving depends on stability.
This is true of your body and your mind and emotions. So, you work hard to create stability and with it a sense of safety, security and comfort.
There are some who claim to be thrill-seekers, others who say they thrive on change and that would be completely true, but each person will find the optimum level of thrills or the best number of changes that suits them. If the number of thrills or changes themselves change too much it causes problems.
If you thrive on eight thrills per month and it goes up to twelve or down to four then change kicks into your thrill-seeking stability.
This is what I mean by camouflage. Let me change the context. If you are used to two arguments a week in your life and it goes down to one, that’s change.
Change, like interest rates, can go up or down. It can also be good or bad. Getting a promotion or a demotion represents change, one seen as good the other bad, but both are change and change has a link to stress.
The guises or disguises of change are such that we use all kinds of words which at first sight don’t look like change. Loss, bereavement, grief, are all faces of change. Relocation, upgrading, downgrading are more. Aging, health changes or injuries add to the list.
Changes can go on around you or inside of you (see the edition entitled Inside Out) so can be changes in attitude, thinking or feeling.
Although there is usually some rational explanation for the feeling of change or the change of feeling you may not know what it is or what is the cause. In earlier editions I’ve talked about personality factors, some personalities are more stress prone than others.
Change on its own does not equal stress. It is change plus a certain reaction that generates stress. The six-letter word of change combined with the five-letter word of anger is what adds up to the six-letter word stress.
Be careful not to equate anger with rage or temper loss. I have shown you five faces of anger in this series but there are other truths about anger which will give you insight into the stress process. In future editions I will show you how anger is a kind of emotional homeostasis mechanism which kicks in when you feel threatened.
What can help you this week in a world full of change? There are many Christian options, but I want to highlight one.
God’s love for you does not change. “There is nothing”, Paul tells the believers in the ever-changing city of Rome, “which can separate you from the love of God”. You will know that sometimes you sense that God’s love is holding on to you and other times when you are clinging on to the love of God or even more challenging when you are clinging on to your belief in the love of God.
But God does not change. His love does not change. Your status as a child of His does not change. Paul, in the same verses, lists a rogue’s gallery that will try to separate you from God’s love, but affirms that they cannot.
There is a cynical French phrase, “Plus ça Change, Plus C’est La Même Chose” which means everything changes but everything stays the same. May I adapt it for you? All kinds of changes can be going on inside of you or around you. You can ask yourself what is changing in my life, maybe everything? Perhaps simultaneously tell yourself what is not changing. You are loved by a changeless God. That part stays the same.
Work well today,
© Geoff Shattock July 2019
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
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