Several of us were sitting around the table to talk through some shared goals and duties. We agreed to a sense of having hit the wall. We confessed to frustration. Against similar conversations that had focused on how-to-fix-it schemes, we just couldn't go there again. We were all exhausted.
So the youngest guy at the table said, "Maybe we need to pray and fast over this." Mine wasn't the only head to snap up. I wasn't the only one to throw a questioning look at him. He must have sensed it. "I don't necessarily mean fasting from food," he explained. "Sometimes I do a media fast — no TV, no radio, no CDs, no music. It lets me focus. It helps me get back on track with God." It sparked some fascinating conversation within the group.
I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm not the only person whose attention he got that morning. I talked with my wife about it later. And I changed my routine the next day. For a precious few days, I fasted from news programs — CNN, Fox, NBC. All of them! I'm a "news junkie" and realized I'd been on overload of late. So I continued eating. But I abstained from the bad news of gore, mayhem, and tragedy for a few days so God could focus me on the good things in his world.
As if God were confirming that decision, I later ran across some research with this heading: "Experts Urge People to Unplug Occasionally." The article tells how psychologists are observing a need among tech-heavy people to get away from e-mail, cell phones, PDAs, and other high-tech gadgets at least occasionally. So they unplug. Take a timeout. Get their breath.
The theory is that many of us have lost the ability to set appropriate boundaries in our lives. Technology is great, if it enhances your life. But when it is complicating and interfering with your life, that's not so great.
Don't routinely take your work home and cancel out your person-to-person life. At a dinner table or in conversation with your family, it's all right to let the phone ring without answering it. If you don't check your e-mail obsessively, the world will keep on turning. Let technology serve you. Don't be its slave!
Part of a smart solution to some of your stress in this holiday time just might be to set some boundaries — about money, food, drink, people, travel.
Unplugging, taking a timeout, fasting — it just might be the answer to that prayer you've been praying about the frustrating pace of your own hectic life.
The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. (Mark 6:30-32)