Perhaps it’s because we are counselors but one of our favorite movies is “What About Bob?” Without reciting the whole plot, the film, starring Richard Dreyfuss and Bill Murray, is the interaction between psychiatrist, Dr. Leo Marvin (Dreyfuss), and client, Bob Wiley (Murray). Bob Wiley is a “multiphobic personality” which makes him afraid of virtually everything. He comes to Dr. Marvin for help. When Bob realizes that Dr. Marvin could actually help him, he obsesses on him. So even though Marvin and his family are going on vacation, Bob decides to track them down and shows up uninvited at their idyllic vacation home on Lake Winnipesaukee. Although the family embraces him, Dr. Marvin sees Bob as an intruder. After several confrontations, Dr. Marvin tells Bob to “take a vacation from your problems, doctor’s orders.” But it’s not done. No, not by a long shot. You’ll have to catch the movie to hear how it plays out. It’s hilarious!
What about Dr. Marvin’s advice to Bob? What about “take a vacation from your problems?” Would that work? Is there anything in scripture that would support that approach? Let’s start with does it work. There are plenty of psychological studies which indicate that the “letting it go” approach is a more effective mental approach than continual rumination on problems. Letting it go doesn’t mean forget about it but it does mean don’t permit the problem to dominate your thinking. Among the benefits letting it go permits you to come up with possible solutions that are “outside the box.” Physiologically, letting it go lowers stress, blood pressure, and adrenaline levels.
Ruminating on the problem only digs the rut deeper. Here’s what psychologist Elizabeth Scott has to say about rumination, “it is the habit of obsessing over negative events that happened in the past and is associated with many negative effects, both on the mind and the body.. Rumination, however, is an easy mode to slip into when we’re stressed, because it begins with the simple desire to solve the problems that are plaguing us.”1
Okay, so from a practical standpoint, taking a vacation from your problems is a pretty sound approach. However, is it biblical? Is there anything in scripture supporting taking a break from your problems? Not specifically, but certainly Jesus’ words about choosing not to worry (i.e. ruminate) are pertinent. Jesus told us “. . . to not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on . . . do not keep worrying” (Luke 12:22-29). In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians he writes, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be make know to God and the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6, 7).
How do you take a vacation from your problems? Let them go by praying about your problems and depositing them in God’s hands. He can be trusted with your problems.
You can let them go,
1 How Rumination Differs From Emotional Processing, Elizabeth Scott, PhD, Verywell Mind online journal, November 12, 2020. Medically reviewed by David Susman, PhD