“How easy is it for you to handle the stressors of life today? How hard are simple decisions?”
A few months back, Josh Reich, pastor at Revolution Church and author of Breathing Room, shared with a pastors’ group I recently started attending. He asked a series of questions that have served as a great mirror for me in the past few months to assess my health.
It’s a strange thing that it’s a difficult thing for us to assess our own emotional and spiritual health. We’re usually pretty aware when our physical health is off, whether it’s an upset stomach or a headache or a sore back. And yet, I suspect that you have those days where you really don’t know how well you are doing emotionally and spiritually.
In Matthew 11, Jesus casts a vision of what following him looks like. You’re probably familiar with the verses. Read Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase and ask yourself how much this resembles your life:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Isn’t that a beautiful vision of the Christian life? Are you living into Jesus’ “unforced rhythms of grace”? Can your life be characterized by its lightness?
For many seasons of my life, if I was honest, my life was best characterized by its heaviness. A grey fog hung over and distorted my perception of everything.
When that fog lingers for long enough it’s hard to even identify it is there. How light is your life? How clear is your emotional and spiritual vision?
In ReSet, David Murray reflects that ours is a "burnout culture": a never-off, always accessible, fast-isn't-fast-enough culture, and we are in desperate need of a cure.
Here is a list of questions Josh suggested (with a couple of my own mixed in) that you might consider asking to help evaluate your health:
· How hard is it to fall asleep? Do you need alcohol? TV? Pornography?
· How hard is it to get started in the morning?
· How fuzzy is your vision of your future?
· When was the last time you prayed?
· How many times have you been in the Word in the past week?
· When was the last time you laughed or had fun?
· How healthy has your diet been in the past week?
· How many times did you exercise last week?
· Are you playing?
I would encourage you to walk through those questions and provide honest answers to them. What I like about the questions is that they not only help me assess my health, they also help me to identify the areas in which I need to get my life in alignment.
When I’m honest, there are always at least a couple questions on that list that trigger a need for re-evaluation and correction. For me, to really make that correction stick, I need to make sure that I’m actually scheduling time for the activities that will lead to health. It’s fine and well to know that I need to get more exercise, but if I don’t put it into my calendar, it’s probably not going to happen.
We are creatures, not the Creator. In Murray’s words, “He is infinite, we are finite; he is unlimited, we are limited. Although none of us would say we are unlimited, most of us think we are less limited than we actually are.” At the heart of so much of our emotional and spiritual sickness is our refusal to admit our finitude and make substantive changes that acknowledge our need.