Sharp About Your Prayers

the challenges, absurdities, and joys of an urban faith

Sharp About Your Prayers header image 2

The New York Stress Exchange

February 4th, 2010 · No Comments · Faith and the City

This past Wednesday, I asked my barber, a quiet Italian guy at this classic, red-and-white twisty pole, barbershop on Lexington, what he thought about stress.  “Peter, what gives people stress?”  After a few more snips, he responded, “Too much work, and not enough work.”  I thought that was a pretty good answer.

Later the same day, I asked one of the young officers at the church what sorts of things gave her stress.  Between bites of black bean chicken, she responded, “Trying to do every part of life well!  To be the best wife, the best employee, the best friend, the best leader at church that I can be.  That can be stressful.”  Also a good answer!

That same evening, I asked the former president of our Board of Trustees, what he found to be stressful in life.  “Why do you want know?” Jim asked.  “Well,” I said, “I am preaching about it this Sunday.”  “Why are you preaching about stress?”  “Well,” I responded, “probably because I am feeling it.”

We are all feeling it.  Right?  Parents are stressed, concerned over their children.  Those hoping for relationships are stressed—wondering if that special someone will ever come along.  Jobs are stressing us, now more than ever.  The Great Recession (as more and more people seem to be calling it) is piling on the emotional burdens—the pressure, the anxiety.  Those searching for work are stressed—trying to make ends meet, hoping for labor that will give them a sense of purpose in this world.  Those who have work are stressed—trying to make it all happen with less.  Now, add to this pressurized cocktail… living in New York—the stress capital of the world.  Ugh.

All week long, I have been playing with the idea that stress is something that we give each other—kind of like a virus.  Through our words and actions we infect each other.   Have you seen those commercials from “The Foundation for a Better Life”—the ones where one person does an act of kindness for someone else, who, in turn, passes that kindness along to another person and so on?

I think stress works the same way.  One anxious person barks at another, who, in turn, sends a nasty email off to someone else, who then, in a fit of “curse this world,” steals a cab from under someone else’s nose, and so on.

You put this many anxious people into this small of a space, and you just might have an epidemic of stress on your hands, a fast-spreading disease that is physically damaging and emotionally crippling—The New York Stress Exchange.

In contemplating these stressful times, in reflecting on my own anxieties, in wondering how to escape the cycle of stress that we heap on each other, I found myself turning to a couple of verses in Matthew (Mt. 11:28-30).  In the eleventh chapter, Jesus speaks to the crowds, saying,

‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’

I want that easy yoke…  Don’t you?  Rest for your souls!  Do you think it is true?  Can Jesus really provide that for us?  Now?

Facebook Comments

Use Facebook to Comment on this Post

Tags: ·····

No Comments so far ↓

Like gas stations in rural Texas after 10 pm, comments are closed.