Surviving Survival Mode

I used to be an avid gamer.  I mean, hours upon hours, non-stop video games.  To this day, I don’t know how I graduated from high school.  I plan to spend some quality time with my PS3 in a few weeks, but I don’t know that I’ll ever get back to that level of game play – nor do I want to.  But sometimes games can really suck you in.

Take, for example, games that have a Survival Mode.  There are all kinds of variations for all kinds of games, but the general idea is that a raft of enemies comes at you, and just keeps on coming – far longer than at any other time.  Your goal, conquer everything that comes your way, and survive.  It’s often complicated by the fact that you have very little ammunition, or bows and arrows, or whatever; there are no 1-Ups, or life crystals, or whatever; and if you don’t survive, you have to do it all over again.

I haven’t played any video games in a long time – and some people maybe never – but isn’t hard to relate to Survival Mode:

I just need to finish this project…

I just need to make it to the end of the month…

I just need to fix this issue…

I just need to write this paper…

I just need to get this [insert problem here] taken care of…

We all know, on some level, what Survival Mode is.  I want to suggest some ways that we can get past it.

1) Recognize that you can’t always be there.  Some people live their lives going from one crisis to the next with little respite or relief.  Resources, whether physical, emotional, financial, or spiritual, are constantly in a state of depletion.  Living this way eventually leads to a face-to-face encounter with a problem that is simply too much for us.  We are overextended, overwhelmed, and eventually overcome.  Problems will come, but we owe it to ourselves to heed the warning signs and get ourselves prepared.  This will help us to respond out of an overflow of resources, not an overwhelming anxiety.

2) Take time for replenishment. Right there in the middle of the crisis is where it is most important to guard those resources that will sustain you over the long haul.  When times are difficult, we should participate in more, not less, of the healthy behaviors that allow us to function in a healthy way.  Yet in the hectic pace of crisis living, we often find ourselves praying less, reaching out to others with decreasing frequency, seeking fewer opportunities to laugh and enjoy ourselves, diminishing the time spent in physical and mental exercise, etc.  This is exactly the opposite of how we ought to react.  The next time you are in a “crisis,” force yourself to step away from it to take care of what’s really important in the long run.

3) Know that it won’t last forever.  And armed with that knowledge, ask yourself whether this is really a crisis or not.  It’s easy to say, this will only be for a short time, so I can kill myself until it’s over (keep doing that and you’ll be dead). Sometimes it’s better to say, in a month’s time I won’t even remember why I was so stressed.  Since that’s the case, do I really need to be stressed?

4) Know that God can and will sustain you.  Paul said that the outward man – our physical body – is wasting away.  If you’re alive, you’re dying – plain and simple.  And living from one crisis to the next only accelerates the process.  But the great news is that by God’s power working in us, we can be renewed every single day.  Not physically, on the outside – but spiritually, on the inside.  If Jesus is your Lord, through faith and baptism, then his Spirit lives in you and, among other things, is available to provide strength for whatever your situation is.  And he, the Spirit, is God’s down payment on the promise of resurrection.  One day, the renewal process will be completed when God gives us new bodies.

Can’t wait…

So, if you’re in Survival Mode – take a break.  Enjoy a good meal; put on some classical music or smooth jazz; go for a run; pray; meditate; read the Bible.

And, for just a little while, vej out and do something mindless – like play a video game.


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