Sabbatical of the Mind: The Journey from Anxiety to Peace

Sabbatical of the Mind: The Journey from Anxiety to Peace

by David L Winters

ISBN: 9780997774702

Publisher Daviwin

Published in Self-Help/Happiness, Nonfiction/Politics, Business & Investing/Accounting, Nonfiction, Business & Money

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Book Description

Sabbatical of the Mind offers a humorous look at going crazy in the Washington D.C. lifestyle, stopping for a break and returning to work reborn.

Sample Chapter

Sabbatical of the Mind is a perfect book for these fast-paced times in which we all live. Dave Winters’s story takes readers on a humorous trip from extreme stress to serenity while providing interesting twists and turns along the way. Dave is a genuine DC inside-the-Beltway success, having risen through the ranks as a civilian with the US Navy and a division director with a certain three-letter government agency. His awards and medals only partially attest to his many accomplishments in business and government service. As with many people, however, the price for his success came at the expense of unwanted pounds and related health problems. That is how Dave and I met.

As the pastor of Capital Baptist Church in the Washington DC suburb of Annandale, Virginia, I started the Losing to Live weightloss program out of my desire to lose a significant amount of weight by honoring God with my body and through small, incremental lifestyle changes. Today Losing to Live has grown into a program that is now used in hundreds of churches in many denominations across America. I learned, and the program teaches, that we can enhance our witness for God and be more effective serving other people if we get our physical bodies into better shape. David first heard a presentation about Losing to Live at a Christian conference sponsored by the Iron Sharpens Iron network. Since then he has participated in the weight-loss program at our church, first as a member of a team and eventually as a team captain. He has personally lost sixty pounds. But losing weight was only part of Dave’s journey. Like so many other people in our busy metropolitan area and throughout the world, the pressures of daily life left him little time for addressing life’s big questions. Commuting to work, participating in volunteer activities, and taking care of family consumed all his free time. After brushes with a few serious medical issues, God gave him the foresight to realize that he needed more than just a few minutes of daily devotions or a weekend conference. Dave grew to want substantial life change, and he was willing to invest in it. Eventually God led him to the biblical concept of a sabbatical, which proved to be a potent prescription to remedy several of his issues. In his story he tells of exploring deep fears, learning to relax, and finding a new level of trust in God. Dave’s personal journey is relatable to anyone who has experienced fear and doubt in their lives and, at times, even in their faith. Like many people, Dave’s journey from childhood involvement in a mainline-denomination church to falling away from God in young adulthood to eventually finding his way back to church will lead the reader to a closer, more personal relationship with God.

Though at times difficult and painful, such a spiritual journey leads to personal growth and a stronger faith. Dave now regularly attends Capital Baptist Church and actively participates in many of our volunteer and outreach activities. He is a treasured member of our church family. Dave is a unique character with a unique perspective on some of the big questions of life we all must face. I hope you enjoy the story of his sabbatical of the mind. As you read it, also respond to the invitation of Jesus, who said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Steve Reynolds Pastor of Capital Baptist Church, Annandale, VA Author of Bod 4 God: The Four Keys to Weight Loss Creator of the Losing to Live weight-loss competition

Chapter 1

Traffic was as bad as ever. My mood couldn’t have been worse as I snaked my way west out of our nation’s capital toward the Virginia suburbs.

After a hectic day at the three-letter government agency where I worked, I was not looking forward to another painful elders’ meeting at church. Our small nondenominational congregation was dwindling in numbers and enthusiasm. Through a series of goofs, infidelities, and bad reactions, the brethren (and sisters) had thinned from almost 250 to 65 attending on Sunday mornings. This was a problem on many levels, most of them practical and financial. We just didn’t have critical mass to do most of what we had done before. Our leadership team was feeling the heat, including its newest member—me.

Cars crept along K Street more slowly than legislation through a divided Congress. Suddenly a self-absorbed yuppie decided that his expensive Lexus or BMW or Infinity allowed him infinite lane changes. His large car payment obviously bought him the right to get to his yoga session ahead of the little people who wanted to see their children’s Little League games or attend annoying church meetings.

When frustrated, I tended to get a little sarcastic. To lighten my mood, I imagined other drivers as one form of dog or another—sort of as in the Dogs Playing Poker artwork. The drivers who acted up were poodles and Chihuahuas. “Come on, puppy, you can do it,” I said to a driver forcing his way into the lane ahead of me. “Make your move. Good boy. You did it!” While admittedly immature, I saw no harm in indulging myself in this area. It let me blow off steam without incident—usually.

Today as I drove to the elders’ meeting, the stress was eating me up. I’d been delayed at work later than usual. I didn’t want to go to the meeting hungry, but I was already going to be late.

I didn’t like being late. Growing up, my mom had always set our family’s clocks five to ten minutes fast so we would always be on time. We had been prompt scouts, baseball players, tennis players, church members, and volunteers. Thinking of my mom and traveling at the speed of slime, I decided to multitask. I punched Mom’s number on my cell phone. She lived in the same small town where we had lived when I was growing up, about thirty miles from Dayton, Ohio. It’s great in Dayton, I thought as the phone rang.

My late-eighty-something mom, a spry, happy, outspoken depression-surviving giver, was usually a great source of inspiration and laughter. Not this day. Today she was peeved at some friends who had apparently bickered past my Mom’s too-much-bickering indicator. Mom gave me the play-by-play details. “Oh, the way they yell at each other. ‘You do it.’ ‘Nah, you do it.’ I could have had it cleaned up and driven home in the time they took to argue about it.” She went on and on. On another day I would have said, “What else is new?” but today each word gnawed deeper and deeper into my brain. It was as if a knife were hacking small pieces from my cerebral cortex.

Finally I couldn’t listen to another word. I started to cry into the phone. A forty-something, six-foot-tall, 270-pound man without shame, my sobs became louder and louder until Mom finally heard me. Instantly her demeanor changed. “What’s the matter, sweetie?”

“Mom, I can’t stand it anymore. I can’t listen to this right now.” Then fear gripped me. What if I give my mom another heart attack by upsetting her? I’d better soften this.

“Mom, I’m okay. I just had a hard day at work. I’ll call you later, all right?” She reluctantly hung up.

The good thing about thinking that I had control of my life was believing that my every word, action, and thought kept the entire world in balance. The down side? One wrong move, and the whole world would fly into a million pieces. At a minimum, all my loved ones would die, my house burn down, and my underarm deodorant stop working. As I continued my slow crawl through Washington, I was left thinking about how I had misused my awesome powers of control and perhaps mortally wounded my mother. (Actually, she was fine. I apparently don’t control the whole world.)

What a Wreck

As I inched into the K Street tunnel, I dried my tears and attempted to buck up. The line of red lights ahead of me looked as if it went on to infinity. Behind me I saw only autos and federal-style architecture. Downtown was nearly in total gridlock.

Bam! I couldn’t believe it. The car behind me had suddenly rearended me. I was startled by the strength of the impact, considering the snail’s pace at which we were traveling. How could anyone run into another car that hard in all this traffic?

Since I was a small child, I’d had a fear that if I was ever in a wreck, my car would burst into flames. Instantly I was in panic mode. This should have enabled me to get out of the car quickly—except that in my terror I tore the interior handle from my driver’s side door. In disbelief I looked down at the useless piece of plastic in my hand. Rolling down my window, I grabbed the exterior handle and opened the door. My expression at the other driver must have included a wild-eyed stare as the man sheepishly approached.

He apologized profusely. “Sir, I am so sorry. I was looking at the ceiling of the tunnel and lost track of how far ahead you were.”

The other driver’s sincere apology disarmed me, and my anger turned to concern over the damage to my bumper. The man quickly wrote down his insurance information. I gave him my intimidating business card with the three-letter agency embossed on its face. The damage to my bumper looked minor, and I indicated that I might not bother turning it into the insurance company. He looked worried but got back in his car.

Since driving less than a mile from my workplace, I’d gone from stressed out to crying to freaked out. Now I grew strangely calm. I climbed gingerly back into my car, nursing my whiplashed neck. I didn’t see how I could possibly make it to Tyson’s Corner and my elders’ meeting by seven thirty.

Traffic finally loosened up, and I sped past the Kennedy Center and over the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge. Once on the lush George Washington Parkway, I marveled at the beautiful old trees that flanked its sides. My mood was lighter now, and I thanked God for the glimpses of wildlife along the way. Somehow I arrived at the meeting only five minutes late.

Fatalism and Frustration

Fortunately, I hadn’t missed a golden moment of the testy discussions about the future of our apparently dying assembly. Should we hire staff to focus on evangelism? Should we merge with a younger congregation and turn our property over to them? Should we just keep praying and see what happened?

Almost all these meetings left me frustrated. I’d joined the elders a year earlier in the hopes of making a difference and helping put the church on a better path. The other elders, however, seemed ready to give up and turn out the lights. It was hard being a younger elder. I was expected to defer to the elder elders, or at least the eldest elder.

Don’t get me wrong, these guys were terrific people. I’d seen each of them make significant sacrifices personally and professionally for the good of the gospel. My beef was really about the fatalistic attitude. It was as if there was no hope in trying to fix the broken congregation. When I had agreed to be an elder, I’d had one main concern: I didn’t want to join the leadership team only to have all the baby boomers retire and head for the hills and find myself presiding over a failed organization.

At this meeting the pastor was again pushing a merger with a small, younger congregation. While I recognized the beauty of a merger, I didn’t have a good feeling about the fit of the two congregations. The other church’s praise band played their music extremely loud, while our group preferred older choruses played energetically but well below one hundred decibels. Their group gave heavy weight to “words from the Lord,” while our congregation put sound Bible teaching first. Their leadership seemed to have control issues, while our group included many free spirits. It felt to me as if the other group, led by its pastor, was aggressively attempting a hostile takeover—backed up by “words” from God that they had received.

Why wasn’t God telling all of us the same thing? I’d never experienced an instance, up to this time, when God had told someone else that I was supposed to give them something without God telling me too. I had the Holy Spirit living inside me. This didn’t make sense. But whether I was right or wrong and whether this idea was God’s or man’s concoction, it now looked as if the merger was going to happen.

As I climbed back into my car after the meeting, I felt as if my time on the elder board was being wasted. What was God saying to me? Why weren’t we elders able to agree or at least disagree more amicably? Was it because we were just passionate over something that meant a lot to all of us? The worst of it was that our church did not have time to thoroughly think and pray all this through. Our congregation was bleeding members, and it looked like only a matter of time until the lights would go out.

The pressure of this matter added one too many things on the plate of my life. I wanted to be used of God, but all the anxiety and tension were getting in the way. Instead of a delicious banquet, my life was beginning to feel like a bad trip to the Golden Corral buffet: I was being forced to eat more and more—and none of it was satisfying


Excerpted from "Sabbatical of the Mind: The Journey from Anxiety to Peace" by David L Winters. Copyright © 2016 by David L Winters. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

David L Winters

David L Winters

David L. Winters is an author, speaker and humorist who resides in the Washington, D.C. suburbs. He spent 34 years in Contracting and Management positions and holds an MBA from Regent University and a BA in Journalism from The Ohio State University.

View full Profile of David L Winters

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