Several years ago, I attended a children’s ministry conference that focused on our well-being in all areas of our life. It’s funny how easy it is for each of us to pay attention to certain areas of health, but not others.
For many, physical health demands to be noticed. Last year when I was waiting to have my gall bladder out, I spent most of my day very aware of how wrong things were working in my body. I couldn’t NOT notice it. Some other folks have more chronic conditions that have required them to adapt and adjust, and they may not even remember what physical health feels like. I am thankful this is not the case for me.
Physical health also has some less noticeable components. I don’t exercise or eat right, and it leaves me sluggish and craving more junk food (the irony). It’s a vicious cycle. I notice it when I need to exert myself for something and find I’m out of breath far too quickly.
Mental and spiritual health are trickier to gauge. While I know both can have acute symptoms, they tend to be more chronic and slowly creep up. It’s not like I go to bed one day feeling great and wake up the next down in a black pit of despair. Depression is sneaky. It creeps in with tiny fingers of shadow, inching its way into my mind over the course of days, weeks, months. And one day I look around and can’t remember when everything turned gray.
My spiritual walk tends to run like that too. One of the hardest thing for anyone in church work is to carve out time for our spiritual health. I know that sounds weird, but indulge me for a moment. When time in scripture is your job, you tend to view it that way. So you open up the Bible not for personal reflection, but to prepare to teach a class or lead a service. And when the worship service is part of your work week, letting go of all of the “stuff” could mean ruining the experience of worship for the people in the pews. I fall into this trap all the time. Often times my only moment of not-working during a church service comes when I go up to take communion. Thankfully I can’t see the screens to know if any mistakes are on them during that brief respite.
The biggest irony of all of this is that the various types of health are all interconnected. I can’t separate my body from my mind or soul. When my physical health is neglected, I’m more prone to depression. When I get depressed, I avoid time with God. Or I start by letting my devotional life slide, which makes me depressed. And when I’m depressed, I feel exhausted.
I am working on making a change. I joined a health club, and I am downloading some audio books and podcasts that will build me up spiritually. So I will have the opportunity to get moving while being lifted up. And the practice of writing is engaging me mentally.
All of it helps, so please keep encouraging me. I need some accountability to keep going, because I learned from reading this book that I am an “Obliger.” That means I am great at doing stuff for others but cannot stay accountable to myself. My personality is wired to need external accountability to be successful.
So if anyone out there is interested in being my “boss” in this, let’s talk!