Someone wise once told me that the two easiest things to STOP doing are going to church and going to the gym. She said they are the two easiest things to stop doing because they are the two best things for your soul and if the world (see: the enemy, satan, the negative energy in the world, however you want to look at it) can stop you from doing those two things for any period of time, it’s only a matter of time before your spirit will start to suffer.
Well, I am not doing either of those things. At all.
It all started out so innocently. I had been waking up on Sunday mornings and getting everyone to church on time for months when the holidays hit (because Jesus’ birthday is a great excuse to stop going to church, right?). A week came when I was so worn out from all of the preparations that I decided to take a morning off and relax. I woke up, made sure to pray and get some worship time in and spent the day loving on my family and resting my tired body. The next week I got a cold or something and felt too crappy go the gym all week and then when Sunday rolled around I decided to “lay low” and wait until I got better. I affirmed that I would go back to the gym AND to church the following week. Guess what I didn’t do. Yeah.
It is now the end of February and I have not gone back to the gym at all. Not one time. Ok, maybe once for 45 minutes while my son took a boxing class but that barely counts. Also, I have only been to church a handful of times since that week before Christmas and, as you can probably guess, my life isn’t any better for the missed Sundays.
The thing about slacking off on spiritual and physical well being is the effects of those areas have impacts well outside of their specific arenas. For example, not going to the gym is about more than attaining a beach body (doubt that will ever happen over here). The gym is part retreat and part endorphin farm. It is one of the only places where I get some non-family social interactions and it makes me feel more confidant which affects the way I feel toward pretty much everything in my day, especially my husband. As El Woods once said, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.”
Spiritual well being is something that absolutely can not be taken for granted, either. Whether a person finds peace on a yoga mat or at an organized place of worship (or anything in between) taking care of the inner-self has immeasurable affects (as does NOT taking care of the inner-self). For me, church is more than just “me time” or looking good in front of the townspeople. Spiritual health can mean the difference between making it through a tough spell in your marriage or not. It can mean loving your child through a tough spell instead of creating life-long wounding. It can mean the difference between loving your life despite its problems and feeling overwhelmed by anxiety and fear. The soul is our greatest asset, it will outlive the body (our second biggest asset) by, well, eternity. Spending time nurturing your spirit will impact you, your children and myriad generations down the line.
I have not been a good steward of either my physical or spiritual health as of late. The nice thing about this life is there is always a chance to make huge change … at any moment. The pivot point is always now. So, with cautious optimism I am walking into this change-moment and sharing it with all of you. I will go to the gym three days a week beginning today (It’s Monday so it’s the perfect day to start) and have a no-excuses approach to Church. These are my pledges to myself and to my readers.
If you have been following my Love Dare Challenge, you know I am also striving for positive change in my marriage. When trying to give more to others, deficits in what we HAVE to give in the first place become glaringly obvious. I am less than half way though the Love Dare Challenge and I am already noticing that my cup is definitely NOT overflowing. I wonder why! When we lack the drive to take care of ourselves we lack the ability to take care of others. How can I expect myself to be everything to everyone while running on empty? It is my hope that this renewed dedication to my own physical and spiritual wellness will give me the spark I need to finish the second half of my marriage goal with more strength than I have had for the first 13 days. It is also my hope that some of this stuff is striking a chord with all of you. If you’re out there feeling drained, pale, under-nurtured, bloated, frumpy, over-sugared and weepy then maybe it’s time for you to check yourself, girl.
My best friend gave me some real talk today. She said, “Liz … if your husband told you that he was feeling stir-crazy and that he needed to spend some days away … fishing or something … you would tell him to go, no problem. You need to do the same for yourself as you do for the people you love.”
This girl gets it. I would totally make sure my husband got the time he needed to recuperate from life’s windstorms. Without hesitation, I would take on his responsibilities for the day and make sure he got the time he needed. So why do I feel so guilty for taking the same things for myself?
The reality of all of this is no one is going to be your advocate. No one is going to come up to you and say, “I give you permission to take care of yourself. Just take today — and then a couple of days a month after that — to nurture yourself back into bloom. You need this and I am going to take care of everything so that you can get it.” Can you IMAGINE?! If someone said that to me, I would pee my pants. Bottom line, I’m telling MYSELF that. I’m giving this gift to myself. I need it right now and so do you.
Let’s be gentle with ourselves, nurture the broken parts, encourage the joyful parts and cultivate our own happiness. If we can do that successfully, every area of our lives will benefit!