“Cost of Living with Stress/Tension/Danger”
This article by Laura Mae Gardner discusses the issues of stress, tension and danger. It highlights symptoms one might experience and what strategies are used to cope with them.

“Cost Of Living With Stress/Tension/Danger”

Laura Mae Gardner 1999, Wycliffe Bible Translators, International International Member Care

7500 W. Camp Wisdom Road Dallas, TX 75236

There are five situations that demonstrate, each one differently, the price of living in and with

chronic high levels of stress, tension, or danger. We want to mention and discuss each of these,

identifying the price of each. We will also identify mechanisms for survival in each situation.

I. Escalating Stress

Notice that periods of quietness are followed by another stressful event; notice too that the quietness

never permits the person to return to baseline. As a result, the last period of quiet is actually still a

pretty high level of stress, though it may be disguised.

Potential Costs:

• distorted perspective; think things are at baseline and they’re not
• loss of care for others; possible disdain for these with ‘less faith’
• sense of exhilaration, some potential addiction to excitement and stress and danger, impatient with peace and stability

• sense of invulnerability, “Nothing has happened; therefore, nothing will happen. It won’t/can’t happen to me.”

• inflated sense of righteousness, and pride in ‘faith-filled’ living

II. Surveillance (Phone lines are tapped; mail is read; movements are monitored; meetings are observed and reported on—constant observation and suspicion is the norm.)

This is a much greater dimension than ‘fish-bowl’ living and causes:

• hypercaution (habitual, engrained)
• distrust; alienation
• reduced spontaneity, lessened vulnerability, less trust
• living with anxiety or suspicion

What is the cost of that?
III. Danger

Constant threat of life, property, family:

• constant security precautions
• pressure on kids (over-protection)
• living under the threat of death

Possible costs of living in situations like this:

• numbness
• recklessness
• hypervigilance
• suspicion
• sense of invincibility (“frog in hot water”)

IV. Hostage Situations (being kidnapped or managing hostage situations)

– feeling “jerked around

– alternating between hope and despair
– alternating between cynicism and optimism

– learning to live with misunderstanding from colleagues

– learning to live with deceit

– learning to live with flatness
– learning to live with boredom

What are some other costs of living in these situations?
V. Overt Ideological Hostility

Internal stress:

• knowing your message, if received, will cost a convert his life
• knowing your friends reject the most important thing in the world to you—your faith
• having to be cautious about something you’re not at all ashamed of (your faith)

External stress:

• living with blatant evil
• societies where unbridled passions are given free reign
• surrounded by temptation, evil, oppression, powerful evil forces

What is the cost of living in these situations?

VI. What strategies serve us best in these situations?

• as responsible administrators on site
• as therapists who want to be supportive
• as participants in these situations
• as trainers wanting to prepare trainees to live and work in these settings



Suggested Resource for self evaluation: Chops 100 Stress Inventory
Copyright1998, 1999 by Wycliffe Bible Translators International & Laura Mae Gardner, D.Min

Permission granted for non-profit use.