Category: Health and Wellness

Humility avoids Hypocrisy

As I write about Spiritual Fitness, about living out the holy life God has called His kids to, I’m not unaware of the irony that neither I nor anyone else has actually done that—lived a holy life. None save Jesus. It’s like if a personal trainer with a less-than-perfect body tried to give you advice about how to have a perfect body. 

So, in order to cure this irony and hypocrisy, I come to you, Sweet Reader, with an inoculation of humility in my veins. 

Just because your personal trainer doesn’t have every muscle chiseled to vein-bulging perfection doesn’t mean she can’t give you powerful advice that will help you get into better shape.  Your trainer still eats salads and goes to the gym every day, or did you think she’s now immune to having to try or to work hard? 

Yet, she’s got trouble spots, too. Muscles that aren’t as strong as she wants, endurance yet to be achieved, and a bikini she’s hoping to look better in. And also, guess what? She eats pizza and ice cream and feels bad about it afterward sometimes. She forgets to take her supplements and even skips the veggies from time to time. 

So, this isn’t “whaddabout you” because I’m admitting up front that I’m probably not “better” at keeping spiritual disciplines than you are. That’s not what credentials me to write on this, and it’s not what disqualifies me either. I’ve probably just been doing these disciplines a little longer than you have or maybe I’ve learned the hard way how NOT to do them, and I wish someone had told me before. You know, back when I was 20 and learning to follow Jesus. 

I have a bit of practice, a bit of research, and maybe a little more nerdiness of learning the Bible that you will either admire or disdain. And either way, it’s work that you can read about so you can learn the easy way, or at least take comfort in knowing you’re not alone along the journey. 

According to research from the Barna group, one of the least likeable traits most people outside the Christian faith have when it comes to Christians is that they are hypocritical. Sadly, they are right. We rarely practice what we preach or live what we believe, and that’s a problem we have to address if we ever want to be winsome for souls. 

The problem is not that we can’t reach the perfection we aspire to, or even that we aspire to become more like the Perfect Christ. The true problem with hypocrisy in this world right now is that it is matched with arrogance at worst, or simple lack of (communicated) humility at best.

So listen up here and now as I communicate to you as clearly as I know how. 

I don’t have this down perfectly yet. 

I’m still getting more disciplined with my own spiritual disciplines. I’m still planning my work and working my plan. If you read what I write in my book or on my blog or my social media and you think I’ve arrived, or that I think I’ve arrived, you’ve missed the whole entire point, my Friend. 

That doesn’t de-legitimize me, though. And it doesn’t make the pursuit of holiness, or spiritual disciplines, or spiritual fitness moot either. 

“I want you to pattern your lives after me, just as I pattern mine after Christ.”

– 1 Corinthians 11:1 (Passion Translation) 

That’s how the apostle Paul said it, and I echo that to you now. 

I know this is important like I know the ocean is deep, Dear One. When people try to skip this learning process of HOW to become more like Jesus, something really sad happens. I know because I’ve been there. I was stagnant in my spiritually weak and obese state, and it prevented me from two very important achievements that I think a lot of other people are missing these days too:

  1. The ability to hear God’s voice intimately and
  2. The fulfillment my soul longed for

The author of Hebrews calls it an abnormal prolonging of immaturity, as if we are incapacitated adults, still unable to chew and digest meat, addicted to milk, and unwilling or unable to grow up and be as strong as we were meant to be. 

I’ve been there—knowing I ought to be farther along in my faith journey, yet unaware of how exactly to graduate to the solid food. But I’m a problem-solver and a researcher, so I didn’t give up. I dug for answers so that I could learn to recognize the loving voice of God and to pursue the actions and beliefs that led me to a deep fulfillment of purpose. I sought out mentors to teach me and show me how they found strong faith. And you can, too. I can show you, and we can go along together. Follow me, as I follow Him. 

Think about this. Why do new believers in Jesus tend to flounder or abandon their faith? Why do college students walk away from the church and subsequently away from God? 

Arguably, there are many factors, but one crucial aspect is that they are standing on a platform of beliefs that their faith practices can’t support. They have no stability. 

Their new-found excitement about Jesus’ unconditional love and reckless grace makes them feel invincible, but the moment a struggle or trial or suffering arises (as is life), they begin to topple under the weight of the barbell like the amateur with no quad or hamstring strength. 

They wonder if God really does love them and whether He has the power to help them or prevent pain. Because they haven’t yet developed the strength that comes with discipline and practice, which God wants to grant them, they believe the Enemy’s lie that this is all there is to Jesus: a promise unfulfilled, a vision not recognized. 

And, Friend, I don’t want that for you. I want much more because I know what is possible. And what’s more, God is pointing you to your need. He’s showing you that maturity is required if you want a faith that goes deeper into intimacy with Him and into your purpose fulfilled. Picture Him inviting you to that delicious banquet, beckoning you to sit at His side so you can dine together. 

There’s steak and baked potato on the plate, with salad and steamed broccoli on the side. Decadent wine fills a glass and rich chocolate cake with crunchy topping drips onto another plate. Yet, you’ve only ever had milk. You don’t know how your teeth work and your jaw muscles couldn’t bite into the broccoli or meat. You’ve never eaten something so rich as chocolate cake and the mere scent of its decadent sweetness has your stomach churning. What now?

Let me show you. 

Let me get you ready for that feast. 

Let me work up the strength of your muscles so that you can lift that barbell. 

Let me push your endurance so you can climb that mountain and watch His transfiguration. 

Even your own transfiguration. 

I can be your spiritual trainer, your faith coach. 

How about you? What faith disciplines would you like to strengthen? Do you know how to do that, and what the Bible says on the matter? What are you curious to learn?

This post is part of a series about the book I’m writing called Spiritual Fitness. Here is the first post, if you missed it. Stay tuned for the next one by subscribing. I cherish all of my readers and it’s with you in mind that I write. 

My Thoughts After a Cancer Scare

10/3/18

“Abnormal glandular cells – favor dysplasia,” she said. Have fun Googling that one.  

 

About a month ago I had an abnormal pap smear after not going to the GYN for several years. Don’t judge – it just didn’t seem important. The kids are important. The church is important. Putting food on the table and gas in the car – now those are important. But not a regular trip to put my feet in the cold, metal stirrups.

 

Until the results came back abnormal and I had to see a specialist to get some samples to biopsy.

And then the thing becomes important. REALLY important.

 

So I went for the procedure and I did not like it. I did not like the poking or scraping or clipping or the long straw-like thing that really hurt the worst. I did not like it, Sam I am. The doctor and nurse were patient and gentle, and as kind as could be in a painful and stressful time. They even said my anxiety-calming and relaxing oils smelled good when they walked in the room.

 

And then the week of waiting. Each day I build back up my faith and every day the fear crawls back down my spine. What if…

 

But I’ve never lived in what ifs – I live in even ifs, and so I began to prepare.

 

Even if it’s bad, I’ll get through it. I’ll fight.

 

And we don’t tell the kids (read, teenagers) until the night before the call, but they shake afraid with wide eyes at the table and then cry in the shower.

 

I thank God for life, breath, sunsets, and sunrises and there is some part of me that prepares for the possibility of not being here for the duration. I used all the oils for cellular health and for healthy cellular reproduction and for promoting appropriate cell death over the past month since the abnormal pap smear.

 

 

Yesterday I didn’t accomplish much. I bought groceries – healthy food without hormones or toxins or hormone disruptors – just in case. But my mind was distracted, wondering if I’d get the call. THAT call.

 

So when the nurse called today to say – No – your pathology came back normal and all of the samples were the same – benign … it WAS a relief. It was thankful joy and and huge weight off my shoulders. And I could think again and be productive again, and breathe again.

 

So, what did worry do? Nothing. Nothing good, that is.

 

It seems so silly now – just a false alarm. But I know the other side of that coin. It could have just as easily been the worst of news, and we could just have easily been crying tears of sorrow as tears of relief.

 

It really did seem like doom. Too many signs (four, to be exact) in my mind pointed toward the conclusion that SOMETHING would be malignant. And so the benign-ness of it all is actually today’s shock.

 

And what did prayer do? It brought peace. Heck, maybe it even brought healing. Maybe there WAS something abnormal but my body and my God and my oils fought it back. I suppose I’ll never know.

 

And one of the kids texts back, “I knew it would be okay” and the other texts back that she’s crying a little in relief, and I’m just proud and thankful for their faith and love. They’re teenagers and they’re rude sometimes, but they love me and they make me proud.

 

My Guy – he breathes deep and sighs hard and releases this tightness he’s been holding so he can hold it together and be strong for all of us even while his worst fear was looming.

 

 

I was clinging to a few things over the past week, and even though my news is good and the fear has stopped creeping down my spine for now, I think they’re things I need to keep clinging to. And so I’ll write them so I remember them and I’ll make sure never to forget.

 

1. He surrounds me closer than any threat. Surrounded is a popular worship song right now, and years later when I hear it, it will remind me of how the Spirit was closer than the fear – closer than death or life – closer than even my Breath and He was faithful. My battle is not against flesh or even in flesh – and it’s fought with praise and thanksgiving – my only and best weapons.

2. I am not promised tomorrow with anyone, so I need to look them in the eye, give them what I have, and love them with all I’ve got.

 

3. I will take care of my body as if my life depends on it – because, gosh darnit, it DOES! I’ve got all of the natural remedies I need and I CAN choose the best food, regular exercise, better sleep, and reduced toxins – so I WILL. Lower the risk by proactive self-care. And teach my kids the same.

 

 

4. Do all of the things. No, I don’t mean that. I just mean act in such a way that I’ll have no regrets at the end of this week, the end of this month, this year, and this life. Kiss my husband often, even in public. Hug my teenagers daily. Speak every encouragement and mute every slander. Thank God for every gift. Sing out every praise, never letting any rock do what I ought.

 

5. Believe. In God – that’s easy for me, if I’m honest. Faith and Belief are like my super-powers, and even through this scare, I never doubted God. There wasn’t a shred of a question whether He would hold me or work anything and everything for good. But – even more – in people. I want to and need to believe in humanity, in friends, in church family, and in my support system. I kept this to just a few people over the past month because I just didn’t trust anyone else with the weight of it, and I didn’t want anyone to be burdened with unnecessary worry. Through telling a few more people and now in telling all of you I’m realizing that worry wasn’t a burden I should have borne alone. That it maybe hurt you that you didn’t know I was facing this for the past month. And I’m sorry. This scare has taught me that I CAN believe in others more than I tend to. And I want to, so I’m committing to. Despite the disappointment I’ve faced in people who’ve let me down and betrayed my trust over the past several years, I know that if anything holds me back, it’s my lack of belief in people. Not just any people – people I need to trust deeply. I need more of them and I need to invest deeper trust.

 

I know so many others who haven’t gotten good news. I write this with sensitivity to your heart, Dear One. May the Lord heal you and comfort you and bring you and your loved ones peace like no one else offers.

 

And I could have just as easily been that one too.