Alright, I confess: I've never run a mile in my entire life. Ever.
In Jr. High & High School when we had to do our weekly Mile Run, I calculated just how much I could walk in order to get a passing grade, and just how low of a running grade could still score me an A in PE. Needless to say, I'm not much of an athlete.
My exercise routine is a feeble rotation of yoga, kick boxing & Pilates videos that I sneak in during nap time (Nolan's, not mine), and although I am aware of all the health benefits of exercise, I also confess that I don't do it for health. To be quite honest, I force myself to endure the peppy blond kick boxing instructor in my TV so I can fit into my jeans, so I don't hate myself when I look into the mirror, and (to a lesser degree) because it gives me more energy throughout the day. However, if I was one of those naturally twiggy folks who could look good in skinny jeans, eat brownies all day & never touch a yoga mat, I would throw health benefits out the window.
I think that, in some ways, I am prone to approach my spirituality in a similar light. I have this vague sense that I "should" be praying, reading Scripture, going to church, etc... and for the most part, I do regularly. If I were to move past the "should" part of religion, and really stop & examine Why I do those things, I think I would find a hazy sort of desire to "be a better person", to "be more like Jesus"... to be spiritually "healthy", in a way.
Just as I know that I will never, realistically, have a six-pack or look like a model, I think the idea that I will never really be "holy" tapers my motivation a bit. Here's what I mean: when I eat fairly healthy, and exercise a few times a week, I fit into my clothes & am satisfied with the fact that I'm not an Iron Man (Woman). And if I pray & meditate & read somewhat consistently, I can keep myself from selling drugs to children, committing road rage or completely flying off the handle... I can be a pretty nice, spiritual, loving person.
But last month, I was talking to a Christian woman a few years farther down the road than me, and she was telling me about how her daughter "came out" to her. She shared about her reaction-- one of love, understanding, patience & support.
I thought to myself, there are moments in our lives where our character really has to shine through-- that her reaction to her daughter in the moment of "coming out" could impact their relationship for the rest of their lives. As a new mother, it made me ache to be the kind of person who would respond well to Nolan's up's and down's-- to support him through tough situations & have the strength of character to jump into action for one of those surprise moments.
Just a few days later, someone I really care for took a risk and "came out" to me, as well... and as she shared, I remembered thinking of my friend and the importance of a loving, accepting, open response that would let her know she was in a safe place.
It made me realize that I don't practice spirituality for my own sake-- for this vague sense of health or being a "good person"-- but so that in those moments, I can have the ability to love, honor & speak to others as Jesus would. Those moments can have a profound impact on the way that the people around us view life, themselves & God.
And that is a lot more motivating to me than this idea that I "should" be flossing, eating green vegetables, exercising... and reading the Bible. Which is good, because I also confess that I rarely ever floss.