I am driven. When I want something, I go for it with head down, single-minded determination. It’s a gift and a curse. I have laser focus but I also have a tendency to lose perspective on the bigger picture. That’s when I have to stop, reevaluate and sometimes even change direction.
One of my favorite shows in the late 80s/early 90s was A Different World. It was a spin-off of The Cosby Show. One of the characters named Whitley had a mantra that I still use to this day:
Relax, Relate, Release
When she was confused, overwhelmed or stressed out, she would repeat that phrase. There is a lot of wisdom contained in those 3 words.
In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to get tense. Stress tightens muscles, becons headaches and produces (many times unnecessary) worries. The “go, go, go” mentality does not provide many moments for pause.
Many times I have to step away from a situation completely. Periodic downtimes away from the “normal schedule” are great ways to regain perspective.
Last week I disconnected from the blog world and social media to seek the Lord for some big decisions in my life. It was imperative that I unplug from the things that occupied most of my time. When I did that, I saw how immediately my stress level decreased and my focus increased.
Once disconnected, it was easier to put my situation into perspective. I could more effectively relate to my circumstances when I removed distractions.
One thing I realized was that just because I read tons of Christian blogs on a daily basis, it was no substitute for my own personal time with God. I made a lot of justifications that fell through once it was given a true evaluation. Spending intentional and focused time with the Lord was a drink of cold water to my parched spirit.
Without distractions, my prayers were lucid. My communication with God was markedly more effective without stopping every 2 minutes to respond to an email notification. More than speaking, I was able to listen to what God was saying. This was pivotal.
I don’t sit in front of my computer when I spend time with the ones I love. Why have I been doing it with God?
In an optimal environment, I was able to identify what I needed to release.
I find safety in control. When situations are out of my control, my first response is fear. Once I realized what was out of my control, I released it to God and gave Him my fears.
Another issue that came to the forefront is that I spend a LOT of time online. This wasn’t news to me and I don’t think it is the problem as much as a symptom. The root of the problem is how manage my time. I saw how I have been distracted from many of the other things that need attention in my life (namely my time with the Lord).
As I intentionally disconnected from every distraction, it was much easier to see those things which I thought were necessary as superfluous. I am cutting the fat out of my routine. I am letting some things go and I already feel much lighter.
I believe the key to this is not exactly balance but harmony or rhythm as some put it. I saw that my life song was out of tune. My rhthym of life was in staccato. By taking the time to relax, relate, release I have been able to get my groove back.
What do you do to relax, relate, release? Did you ever watch A Different World?