Pursuing spiritual healthiness
By the Rev. Phil Mark
By the Rev. Phil Mark
Every so often, I engage in a self-assessment exercise to discern the unfolding narrative that is my life. Taking "two steps back in order to take three steps forward" has been a useful approach for the sake of my personal growth as an individual, spouse, parent and pastor.
I have found that creating a "word pair" — two words used together — helps me discern my life narrative over the years.
As a youngster, life was fun and games. Then as a teenager, it was friends and freedom. As a college student, I was preoccupied with meaning and future. In seminary and as a young married man, direction and adventure was my focus.
As a rookie pastor working with youth and as a young parent, I was about roles and responsibilities. As the organizing pastor of a new church, dreams and wonder spurred me on.
As a program staff member in my denomination's state office, nurturing relationships and perspective with and for congregations consumed my energy.
These days, health and fitness best describe what I try to pay regular attention to. The healthiness of the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual dimensions of our lives is invaluable. It is also transformable. We can affect our own fitness in those health dimensions.
Diet, rest, exercise, mental stimulation, relationships — we know the story. Doing it is the real story. It's a matter of motivation. It's the discipline of commitment.
For followers of Jesus Christ, the health and fitness of our life in him is invaluable. Certainly it is something we can initiate and contribute to. Indeed, the "shape we are in" with our relationship with Christ transforms every other aspect of our lives. Wanting this more than anything else is the key.
Asking God for this turns the key, and God starts us on the journey. God provides us with discernment, wisdom and motivation, particularly through the setting of a local faith community. This is "so that with the eyes of our hearts, enlightened, we may know the hope to which we are called; and the immeasurable greatness of Christ's power for us who believe," as Apostle Paul wrote from a Rome prison cell to the congregation at Ephesus.
The overall health and fitness of our lives is effectively enriched at the intersection of our spirit, discerned memories, God-given hope and Christ-empowered abilities.
The Rev. Phil Mark is the senior pastor at United Church of Christ-Judd Street.