Monday, February 2, 2009


Psalm 37:5 (The Message) “Open up before God, keep nothing back…”

In my Psychology of Stress class this week, there was a quote from the Greek philosopher Epictetus, who wrote that death was a “common consequence of chronic perturbation”. I looked up the word perturbation, and found that it meant:

a. The state of being perturbed; agitation.
b. A small change in a physical system.
c. Physics & Astronomy Variation in a designated orbit, as of a planet, resulting from the influence of one or more external bodies.

Well today I’m a citizen of my own little perturbation nation. I feel agitated from the inside out, as if I took all my emotions and tossed them in the hard and fast agitation cycle of my washing machine. They just keep slopping and spilling and milling around, going nowhere.

Being “perturbed” does make a real change in your physical system. It makes you want to jump out of your skin, you either can’t sit still or you veg out in front of the boob tube like a zombie. Everyone is on your last nerve, and screeching their nails on the blackboard of your soul. Your brain doesn’t seem to function clearly, and you feel all jumbled up inside. You find all sorts of unhealthy, unsmart and negative ways to ease your stress instead of stopping and dealing with it effectively.

Most significantly, my orbit around the Son has been knocked off kilter – the last thing I feel like doing is praying or reading my Bible. I get mad at God (duh, see last statement about not thinking clearly), mad at myself, and I don’t want to be influenced by external bodies, either (like family or friends or for that matter anybody on earth). I just want to run away (off orbit) and hide.

My textbook says stress follows a predictable route, the “stress-response pathway”. Well, I don’t like being predictable, and I don’t like this pathway. I don’t like turning into a grumpy little gnome/hermit, as comfortable as that is for me. And I don’t want to run away from God. If I can’t find my peace in Him, how will I be able to deal with stress anyplace else? And certainly, the last thing I want on my gravestone is the phrase “Died of Chronic Perturbation”!

So, even though I don’t feel like it (at all), I will choose to sit with Him and talk with Him about this day and all that has transpired. I won’t put on any false fronts (like He would be fooled anyway), and I will be real with Him, crabbiness and all. I will seek His face, and His grace and comfort and mercy and guidance. Only then will my perturbation turn into inspiration, and hopefully someday, maturation.

Oh yeah, and I’ll remember to take a few deep breaths and count to ten, and try to find something funny in this day as well.

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