From Pastor Bob – June 4, 2014
A couple of weeks ago I attended a Weight Watchers meeting at which we celebrated a member reaching her goal. It’s always fun to celebrate achievements, and Erin had worked hard to reach this goal. I forget how much weight she lost – over 70 pounds, as I recall – and it had been a struggle.
Part of the struggle was managing her family responsibilities and managing her self-care. She is married and the mother of nine children, ages 18 months to 18 years. She home-schools her children. Many women I’ve known have decided that with that level of responsibility to others, they simply could not take time or energy to look after themselves.
Some, however, realize that in order to serve others better, they need to be in good health. I think I’ve told you that is a primary motivation for me to be careful about how I eat and my activity level: I want to be alive and able to serve the Church.
When Erin came up to the front of our meeting to receive our congratulations, she spoke about what the weight-loss journey had meant to her. This stuck with me: “It’s helped with the discipline in other areas of my life.” I get that; when you feel in control over something in your life, it helps you feel that you can take control of something else.
Christians have a strong tradition of spiritual discipline; it is trendy these days to scorn it as quaint. Why should we not pray at specified hours of the day? If you practice football, your golf swing, the piano, or your German lessons on a regular basis, why not prayer? And what’s wrong with saying a classic prayer out of the Presbyterian Book of Common Worship? If it is essential to practice your scales to be able to play the piano or the saxophone, why not practice basic prayer rituals?
Because we’ve bought into the crazy notion that spiritual life is entirely spontaneous. Spiritual life is not rigid, for God is certainly not so tightly-wound as some of our preachers have been over the centuries. But God is also not chaotic and undisciplined. So spiritual life is both disciplined and spontaneous: for a well-rounded spiritual life, you and I need to have structure and discipline, as well as flexibility to roll with the waves, when needed.
A person does not reach a weight goal without learning discipline, and does not keep to a healthy weight without a measure of self-discipline combined with healthy routines. Learning discipline in one area of life can help in another. Ask Erin. Ask me.