A year and a half ago, I had a very bad outbreak of acne that came after months of terrible sleeping and eating habits and emotional turmoil. Normally I’m quite blasÃ© about the occasional pimple outbreak because I’m so used to it. But this case was very bad and the timing couldn’t be worse because my wedding was coming up. I tried various remedies for several months with minimal improvement. In the end, at my mother’s behest, I decided to go for laser treatment which was effective but alas, very expensive. (I think I spent about CAD$3000.)
It made me think about how people are often quite willing to fork out money and put in effort into achieving physical health and beauty. Massages, facials, hair treatments, slimming packages, gym memberships… for whatever varying reasons we might have, we like to look our best and to be healthy. After all, a healthy body staves off illness and allows us to enjoy many of life’s pleasures to a fuller extent. But why are we not as concerned about our mental and spiritual well-being?
Just as our muscles become flabby if we do not exercise, so our souls can become ill from lack of regular ‘exercise’. When we do not reflect on our thoughts and actions, we easily lose our focus, even our identity. Unconsciously, we give away our selves to the loudest voices in our prevailing culture and become automatons – living beings without full liberty and consciousness. Our inner senses grow duller, making us less sensitive to our hearts and conscience until we find it hard to care at all about the kind of people we are becoming.
Everyday we eat, we drink, we sleep and we breathe. These are the basic necessities of physical life. Why do we not take as good care of our spiritual health?
I’m a pretty ill-disciplined person when it comes to any kind of regular practice. This includes prayer, which is the most important spiritual discipline. Whenever my prayer life starts getting spottier, the effects are obvious. I become less sensitive, less aware, more impatient, more selfish, more anxious and less forgiving. My spiritual vision gets impaired and slowly, my life becomes more and more ‘me’-centered and at the same time spins out of control the more I try to grasp it. Worst of all, when I’m in this state, I bristle and get irritated whenever someone reminds me or asks me if I’ve been praying regularly. [Just as in physical health, it’s not difficult for somebody else who exercises regularly to detect that I’ve been slacking… the symptoms are obvious!]
I’m very blessed that every now and then God sends me a reminder I cannot ignore to pick up the slack before I become too flabby. He knows me too well, He knows what signs to send that I cannot ignore. Because I’m such a stupid (yes, stupid I tell you!) and slow child, He sometimes has to let me have a very hard knock before I wake-up to realization. :P
What better a time than Lent to submit myself to a spiritual check-up? What better a time to review my spiritual exercise practices? Courage, dear girl. Courage and faith! GAMBATTE!
It is a timely reminder for us to focus on our spiritual well-being during this lent, before it’s too late. Just got news that a colleague has passed away from cancer, and it makes one wonder what we’ve been doing with our lives. If we do not awake from our slumber by responding to the calls from God every now and then to place our sight beyond this secular world, we may well find ourselves lost in the darkness with no time left for us.
I like the way you put it – “But why are we not as concerned about our mental and spiritual well-being?”. It takes character and maturity to look beyond our physical world, which is often so clouded with secular distractions. But it is in our inner soul where we will find true peace and contentment.
One thing I’ve realized is that in order for us to develop discipline in prayer, or in the larger sense feed ourselves spiritually and mentally, one must learn to look at each decision, each choice of word and each thought in our mind something that is totally within our control. We should then make conscious effort to make the right decision, say the right word and think righteous thoughts. It is when we can deal with things in a small way that we can conquer big things.
I like the last sentence: “It is when we can deal with things in a small way that we can conquer big things.” :)
Unfortunately, where I work, sometimes people only want to do the ‘big’ things, and people forget that actually it’s the ‘small’ things that is the glue holding everything and every value together :)
Actually what I said in the previous comment is quite different from the theme of the blog, but it kind of struck a chord in me, because this was what I have been thinking (general stuff about work) the past year or so :)