October 14, 2012

Well, To Be Honest...

You ever find that life gets in the way of good living?  We know we should be taking care of ourselves, body, spirit, and soul.  But can I tell you a secret?  Sometimes I feel guilty about taking care of ME.

Mind you, I get this lovely little "holy" feeling when I focus on my spiritual growth, on being healthy in my relationship with God and focusing on all things spiritual.  Almost to a fault.

Despite that I know it doesn't work this way, I feel like I've earned my brownie points with the Lord and "among the brethren" when I have steady devotions, I fast, I spend hours in my prayer closet, I go to church twenty times per week, I give my clothes to orphans, or I witness to my neighborhood and hand out a trillion tracts.

I feel like I've earned favor with God and man.  I don't feel a bit of guilt sharing those "activities" with you.  After all, many of you are our prayer partners, even our financial partners, and you want to know we're worth the trouble, right?

But I am just like a home, which is made of the family living inside it as well as the actual house they dwell in, plus all those little things like kitchen appliances, photo albums, and furniture.  I could focus on having a mansion and live in it alone, without furnishings, and it wouldn't feel like much of a home.  I could have lots of memories captured on film and USB cards and look through them with my lovely, happy family on our fine leather sofa, while the roof caves in on our shack.  That's out of whack somehow.  All three parts are important, but within the context of balance.  Of course, the family is the most important, but taking care of the family means you keep the other things in order, too.

I understand that of all the three parts that make up Christie (body, soul, and spirit), the spirit is the most important part, the eternal part that should take priority over all others. But if the roof collapses on the body that houses this spirit, I'm not much good.  If I am depressed and soul-sick, I won't be very effective spiritually.

Sometimes in my mind, I hear scriptures like Matthew 6:33 ("Seek ye first the kingdom of God...") and Romans 8:5-6 ("they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace"), and let's not forget I Corinthians 9:27 ("I discipline my body and bring it into subjection....").

I take those verses totally out of context and decide that putting any importance on my physical body makes me somehow less spiritual. I decide not to tell you that Ken joined a gym and is doing well recuperating from his heart surgery, because, well, we could be spending that $12 per month on buying a few meals for the homeless guy that wanders around our neighborhood and sleeps on the corner.

And when I do tell you, I feel the need to mention how Ken's building a relationship with several guys at the gym, and how they seek him out with questions, curious about what he's got that makes him different, just from that hour they see him in the gym a few times a week.  That way, I have justified the investment of time and money.

Or I don't want to tell you how much I have really enjoyed the inflatable kayak my mom bought for my birthday.  See how I had to slip in that I didn't pay for it, that I merely accepted a gift from my mom?   And now that I've said it, I'm tempted to tell you how I've met people and started conversations because I'm out rowing or they want to see it up close when I beach, to be sure you recognize its value as an evangelistic tool.

And while that is the truth, the truth is also that I didn't think about that at all when I dropped the hints to my kids a month before my birthday that I had my eye on that kayak, just in case anyone should ask them. Nope, the fact is that I miss exercise. It's something that's always made me feel good, and without the ability to run or bike or even walk much, I feel it in my soul.  I need to get out and be active.  But even typing that out makes me feel less spiritual, like winning souls or preaching the Gospel or reading the New Testament should be the only thing that makes me happy, right?

I wouldn't dare judge you in that way.  I wouldn't tell you that to enjoy your time on the water, taking in the beauty of creation and just breathing makes you less spiritual, but oh, how I struggle with it as it pertains to ME.  I'm a missionary, after all.  Full-time ministry.  24/7 and all that.

How I feel like I'm cheating when I steal away for an hour to exercise!  Like I have failed God because I spent that hour with a clear mind when I could have been rowing and praying!  I could have sung to Him!  What was I thinking, just rowing along like that?!

But instead, I am learning to let Him sing to me.  To let Him speak, not always in that prayer setting, but sometimes in the sunset, in the waves, in the breeze. After all,

“His invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship.” (Romans 1:20)

 My heart knows this is okay, but it's that switch in my brain that says I must be productive every second of the day, as YOU judge productive.  And YOU, and YOU.  And the truth is that you may not even think that way, but somewhere inside I'm worried that you will, that I'll let you down and you'll be disappointed in me.  And that's how I let guilt take residence.

Some of it comes from real experience, from real people who've been part of my life and really do think that way.  But I don't believe I'm the only person God's warming with the sunshine of His presence in a way that inspires me to take care of me completely, even though many times I don't give myself permission to do it.

Anyone else struggle with this?


  1. Eric Liddell, chariots of Fire "I believe god made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast, and when I run, I feel god's pleasure. To give up runnung would be to hold Him in comtempt."

  2. I don't know who you are, I just saw your blogspot on Rita Vernoy's posting, but I totally relate! After my brain tumor surgery in March 2011, I have felt like I am pretty worthless, because there is so little I DO. But my husband constantly reminds me that just BEING is something, and that God is fully capable of accomplishing His purposes without my efforts. Kind of humbling, isn't it? Self-worth is so wrapped up in what we do. But I know a pastor's wife who had a "sudden death" attack, and now she has the mind of a 6 or 7-year old. but she is glorifying God to the best of her ability, and so is her family. I know a pastor's wife who had a stroke, and she babbles, but she does it joyfully. Lord, I say, let me be joyful in who I am and what I am. Philippians 1:19,20 - let me magnify Christ in my body, whether by life, or by death. I say, enjoy God, glorify Him, worship Him as you enjoy the beauties of His creation, and your family, and life in general!

    God bless you!

    Sharon Kaighen

  3. I do not know who you are, I just saw your blogspot from Rita Vernoy's posting, but I had to comment. After my brain tumor surgery in March 2011, I have felt very unworthy, because I do not DO much, anymore. I'm pretty healthy, but I've slowed way down. This has tended to affect my self-worth, as I figure I do not DO enough to bring God glory. But my husband reminds me that God is perfectly capable of DOING without me! I know a pastor's wife who had a "sudden death" heart attack, and she now has the mental capabilities of a 6- or 7-year old. I know a pastor's wife who had a stroke, and now she babbles. But both ladies have had opportunity to be joyful in their afflictions, and their families are glorifying God in their thankfulness to care for them. Hence I am experiencing the joys of loving God and glorifying Him in what I AM, instead of what I DO. Almost sacreligious, isn't it?

    Take joy in God, while you're out there in your kayak. Enjoy the life and the family you have. And let God be seen in you, without trying. Philippians 1:19, 20 - magnify God in your body, whether it be by life, or by death. It's pretty awesome. "Channels only, blessed Master, but with all thy wondrous power flowing through us, thou canst use us every day and every hour," whether we are trying hard, or not. Amazing, huh??

    Sharon Kaighen
    Norwalk, CT

  4. there's always a balance, right? Remember that guilt is of the devil.

  5. there's always a balance, right? Remember that guilt is of the devil.


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