This month's Healthy Home post is about spiritual health. This can be a touchy subject, but take a few minutes to check out what my friend Jeff has to say. He is very passionate about the Lord, and loves talking to people about Jesus (he also happens to be married to my dear dear friend and soul sister).
What does it mean to be spiritual? I was once part of a “focus-group” that tried to answer this question; the results were…messy.
It is actually very common for people to consider themselves spiritual; the trouble comes when you set upon them the task of trying to define what that really means. It usually involves nebulous hand gestures, contemplative facial expressions and a tone of voice that one would take if asked to describe to a five year old where exactly babies come from.
What does it mean to you? Take a moment and think about it…
It’s not really an easy question. I think more often than not being “spiritual” is something that’s oversimplified. I believe it’s more than behavior (i.e. being nice to people) and it’s more than just hoping in some sort of higher power out there. I believe being spiritual is a heart-condition that is hard-wired into our very humanity. We all have something in our lives that we’ve put on a pedestal and look at with a sense of awe and wonder. We all are longing for fulfillment in one way or another and we look for these “solutions” that will fill the gaps in our lives. When we finally find this solution, we give it priority in our lives.
Maybe its love…our culture longs for true love. We grow up seeking it, telling ourselves, ”if only I could have a relationship like that, then I’d be happy.” We fantasize about what that relationship would be like, who it would be with, how happy we could be if we had it…we approach the concept of true love with awe and reverence giving it a special place in our heart.
I have atheist friends that tell me how in awe they are of the universe. How complex it is, how they can get lost for hours studying the intricacies of it. I have foodie friends that can talk my ear off about trying new foods or new recipes or cooking techniques. I have adrenaline junkie friends that are always telling me about the next big race, or the next great adventure. We all have something that we hold out in front of us, like a carrot on a stick, to get us through the less desirable times in life. I believe we are all spiritual in this regard so the question isn’t, “Are you spiritual or not?” the question is, “What is your carrot? What have you put on a pedestal?”
Here’s some questions that will help you identify your carrot.
- When you have nothing else you need to be thinking about, what do you daydream about?
- What makes you lose control of your emotions? Where your emotions jump from cool as a cucumber to seething rage in a matter of moments. Usually when our “carrots” are threatened or disrespected we react with anger.
- What do you spend your money on most effortlessly? This can help point you towards your carrot. If you spend a lot of money on clothes, perhaps your carrot is what your peers think of you. Or if you don’t spend money at all (by choice, not necessity…some of us are rather poor), perhaps money itself is your carrot.
- Last one, what are your nightmares? What in your life do you feel like you couldn’t live without?
Whatever you carrot is in your life is it satisfying your hunger?
The problem with these carrots is that the joy or pleasure that they promise eventually fades away. They always end up “rotting” or “molding.” In the end they all go bad and will let you down.
If your carrot is your child, then your whole sense of self gets wrapped up in how they perform at school, or in sports.
If your carrot is your job, then getting passed up for a promotion isn’t just bad luck, it’s an attack on your identity, it’s personal.
In my experience I’ve found that only when I make Jesus my carrot, only when He becomes my hope, only when I base my identity in Him am I able to truly feel peace, to truly be spiritually healthy. Why?
Let’s go back to our analogy, chasing a carrot on a stick. All of the things we’ve talked about have resembled the experience of chasing after some motivation, but like the caricatured analogy these things never provide the satisfaction that they promise. You never actually get a hold of the carrot on the stick. Jesus is different because instead of running to grab the carrot, the carrot ran to you when you weren’t even looking for it. Even before you were hungry enough to chase after food, even before you felt the need of a savior, Jesus came down on our level and became hungry for us. The Bible says that heaven will be like a giant wedding feast; Jesus left that feast behind, stepped into our world and became hungry unto death so that you could gain the very feast he left.
There’s no earning this carrot; it is freely given. When you grasp the gravity of what’s already been accomplished for you…forgiveness, acceptance, love...then you run out of the joy of being fed instead of running in order to be fed.
You can also check out Jeff's blog, More than Morality, here.