Burnout- Living in a culture of doubt & distraction
By Jessica Rubi Greer
"Down, depressed and hopeless"
The twenty-first century has been characterized by rapidly changing and evolving technologies.
Advancements and conveniences have crept their way from mere novelties and entertainment
to daily necessities. First-world human appetites have taken shape, desires lit by a virtual
escape from the mundane realities that humanity was previously forced to cope with. As a
result, the world itself has gotten noisier, sensory driven, algorithm centered, image consumed,
with information overload, and has thus created a chasm of chaos within our own minds. A poll
taken by the Psychiatric American Association (APA) in 2018, found that Americans were 40%
more anxious than the previous year. Most of the concerns were for their health, safety, and
finances. Fast forward to May 2020, the Washington Post reported that a third of Americans had
been diagnosed with clinical anxiety. One section of the article titled “It’s not normal for this
many Americans to feel depressed” identified an increase in positive screenings after
Americans admitted to feeling “down, depressed, and hopeless”. The spike is obviously
correlated to the impact of Covid-19, but causation factors are far more complex. Western
societies have been grappling with younger generations battling anxiety and depression
disorders prior to the global pandemic.
Faith & the unseen
Although the dramatic shifts that have taken place since March 2020, may have rocked the
world into a state of upheaval and uncertainty, it exasperated and exposed feelings that had
already existed. When we consider the worries we face, they are basic human needs… health,
safety, and finances are considered primitive. Yet, even in wealthy democratic countries in
which most have unlimited access to medical care, law and order, and live lives of luxury
compared to most of the world there has continued to be this ongoing gnawing on our mental
state. As a Christian, we recite verses that encourage us not to worry, not to fear. Why?
Because “Greater is he that is in us!” However, the reality of anxieties from typical modern worry
to debilitating mental illness has only become a more common imprint on our collective psyche.
When we read the scriptures about faith, they always have one oppositional weight and that is
sight! 2 Corinthians 5:7, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” Hebrews 11:1-3 “Now faith is the
assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old
received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word
of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” All of Hebrews 11
discusses the faith Christians have in a completeness to their faith that has eternal purpose.
Words in the New Testament that describe a person of faith use words like “invisible” “unseen”
The unseen vs the "over-seen"
Living in a world that appeals first and foremost to our senses, pulls us into living in the present.
Not only participating in the present, but investing our energy, our mindset and our worldview.
Information bombarding our smart phones with “breaking news” buzzing us to let us know that
Harry and Meghan are now going to have baby #2! SIGHT! Social Media reminding us that our
best friend from 4th grade ate sushi AGAIN! SIGHT! Algorithms popping up an infinite amount of
ads after inquiring a google search for the right concealer! SIGHT! This is what it means to fight for our faith in the modern world. There are politics, agendas, demonic philosophies… then,
there is just the constant tapping on our thoughts.
The earthly state of materialism draws us into the values and ethics of a worldly code. Women
living in free societies are encouraged to be “boss babes”, pushing for influencer accounts,
contending for that side hustle. After all, the Proverbs 31 virtuous woman was also a
businesswoman! Obviously, there is great incredible purpose that God gives women to pursue
the marketplace. However, all of it falls square in the middle of a culture of distraction. Take the
classic Bible story of Martha and Mary. Luke 10:38-42 “As Jesus and his disciples were on their
way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a
sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was
distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t
you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me! Martha,
Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are
needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from
her.” Jesus poignantly identifies what causes worry, prioritizing the things that can be easily taken from us.
The distractions within our culture and the dependency on outside views take up the space in
our minds that should be producing new ideas, new solutions, spiritual inspirations. We replace
deep thinking with overthinking. Instead of having a controlled and intentional process of
thinking, we indulge in reactionary chaotic thinking. Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever
is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is
commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these
things.” God has spoken to our spiritual appetite for thought, supplying us with intellectual
Turn your eyes
We live in a century that has supplied us with endless activities that lead to a state of burnout.
Our actual physical senses are constantly being heightened by technology, contributing to living
a life by sight instead of faith...resulting in doubt and fear. Couple this with constant distractions
and the buzzing of our brains into hyper emotional thinking. The things of this world are loud
and bright. I cannot help but think of the old hymn “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”, the chorus
“Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim”. The opposite of
doubt and distraction is faith and focus. While we are being dragged into the present, even with
the best of intentions… we must be diligent to focus on Jesus so that the material and cultural
goals around us will fade “in the light of His glory and grace”.