Friday, March 22, 2013

Margin- Chapter 4

(A few friends and I are reading this book together. Each week we are reading one chapter. On Fridays, I am posting my comments, then giving them the opportunity to add their thoughts as well. If you would like to join us or simply find out more about the book, you can read about it here.)

Chapter 4: "The Pain of Stress"

- He was talking about me when he said: "Some in our midst quickly grow impatient with all this stress talk." (pg. 51)  He continues to lay the foundation for why we need margin, but I feel it has been laid, and I'm ready to move on.

- Even more than the previous chapters, this one left me longing for the nuts and bolts of the solution.  I personally felt too much emphasis was put on "stress" when many of the problems should be viewed Biblically as sin problems.  Example: "Some researchers believe fear to be the root cause of all stress reaction." (pg. 50)  These fears most likely are sins due to a lack of faith in God, but that is not how they are described.  Despite my disagreement, I thought there were a few good things in the chapter.

- "Stress is not the circumstance, it is our response to the circumstance." (pg. 43)  This is important because we cannot control our circumstances, but with the Holy Spirit's help, we can control our response, and thus, our "stress level."

- Another example of my problem with this chapter: "Is it [stress] a modern disease?"  (pg. 45)  Later, he answers the question in the affirmative.  Maybe he is not defining this medically, but the fact that too many psychologists label sin problems as medical "diseases" makes me very leery of this wording.

- It was interesting to me to learn that certain psychological stressors affect the body more than physical stressors.

- I would not characterize myself as a "Type A" personality, but I have seen times where I can identify with the thinking that "Margin is not a priority to preserve but a gap to be filled."  (pg. 47)  He also said of these people, "Productivity is the goal, not living."  (pg. 52)  I think we often lead productive lives, but productive in the wrong areas.

- Living in another country has helped me to see how we Americans live by the minute as he talked about.  We pack our schedules, while others in other cultures are not so worried about such minute amounts of time.  There are positives and negatives, but the more relaxed pace has been a blessing.

- "The intact, supportive relationships we all require for healthy living have dissipated under the tutelage of progress.  The family has been systematically dismantled, and at the same time, long-term friendships are increasingly rare."  (pg. 50)  In my opinion, this was the best thought in the chapter.  The make-up of the family and its authority structure have been attacked maybe more than anything else.  May we build those relationships in our families, and challenge others to do so as well!

I've had my say, what say you?

Discussion on Chapter 3
Discussion on Chapter 5


  1. CHAPTER 4: The Pain of Stress:
    I am on the same page with Jacob with feeling like the dead horse has been beaten (or put into other meat to be sold around the world) and it is time to move on to the solution. Since we have only one "pain" to go through, I think we can forgo the vote to skip to the next section, though it has been tempted.

    "Stress is not the circumstance, it is our response to the circumstance" (pg.44). I think this is helpful to keep in mind in order to know where to focus our energies in resolving stress in our lives. If we think stress is the circumstance, we will be very limited to be able to change anything, but if we realize that we are responsible for how we respond to circumstances, we then become the responsible party and can do something about it.

    "Chronic uncertainty, sustained levels of increased vigilance, or struggling with a mental task are more stressful than chopping wood" (pg.46). "Often our perception of the stressor damages us more than the stressor itself" (pg.48). I whole-heartedly agree that mental strain can be more draining than physical strain. It is amazing how non-physical challenges can have such a physical influence in our lives. As for chopping wood, I think that is more of a stress-reliever (unless there are knots in the wood).

    Jacob did well in bringing out the dangers of not recognizing sin as sin. Even when sins are committed in the heart and mind, such as worrying or fear, it is amazing how it can have damaging effects on our physical state.

    Still waiting for the solution section on margin.

  2. I developed anxiety just reading this chapter.

    Now for disagreement, I actually needed this chapter. Yes he really is going over the same things but two thoughts struck me in this chapter. (Maybe I'm a slow learner)
    1. Stress is serious business.
    2. Stress is often controllable. The paragraph about a man working six days a week for 14 hours and not having stress just because he controlled the work was surprising.

    I think of Paul's words "But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." Now, I know there is more in this verse than just physical, but apply the principle to the physical aspect of stress. If stress is really this physically damaging, I need to be cautious of it. Maintaining the physical ability to continue to minister for Christ is important. (Again there is a lot more to those verses than just stress, but go with me.)

    Now for agreement, sin is a huge source for stress. We cannot overlook that plain truth. And I am definitely ready for the positive chapters.

  3. Well, after several weeks away, I'm going to break the silence. While there hasn't been earth-shattering concepts in chapters 2&3, I didn't really have the time (er...margin) to comment. :)

    I have personally noticed that my response to a problem is sometimes worse than the problem itself.

    I did think it interesting that the author thought our present day had more stressors than any time in history. I look back at the Laura Ingalls types and wonder how they made it. If they could see us now, they would wonder how we make it!

    The idea that psychological triggers are more tiring than physical was something I've known for a while. That psychological triggers cause much worse physical problems is unconcerting.

    In closing, the guy whose blood pressure shot up by 40 points when given the math problem teaches us nothing about stress. It does teach about where his struggles were in his prior education... :)