What is Spiritual Health?

As I thought about last week’s post, I realized I should have started with the spiritual, because once you “get” that, everything else is easier.

Two things get in your way, however: First is that we all want our own way. Even when we’ve realized that we make bad choices, if things go better for awhile we want to try it our way again. That’s because our whole point in growing up is to be autonomous. That is how we develop. We start out helpless and learn skills.

First skill is communication. Not very sophisticated, I’m hungry or uncomfortable, I cry. If someone comes, it works, and I repeat it. Later we learn recognition, and then interaction.

Language gives us a huge jump in communication and getting our needs met, and continually we are adding power year by year. But there is always a power struggle. Sometimes we want to feel taken care of and safe. Other times we fight for our independence.

My eight-year-old grandson said it well when he wasn’t listening and got in trouble. Big tears welled up in frustration as he wailed,  “When am I ever going to get to make my own decisions and do what I want?”

“Oh honey,” I said, “You’ve got ten years to go! But you can start practicing with the choices you are given, and as you make them well, you’ll get more.”

The thing is, we finally reach autonomy only to discover that there is always a boss or a government or somebody we have to listen to. And finally we grasp that there are laws which simply describe the way things work, and you can defy them, but they will break you. Like gravity. You can get mad at it or use it, it doesn’t care. It will still operate the same.

Then begins the real growth. How will I relate to this dilemma? Am I really free? Can I really do whatever I want?

And God says, “Yep. But you might want to know what the rules are.”

“Rules?” you say. “Then I’m not free! When will I be able to do what I want?”

He answers, “When your wants agree with how you were made. If you love living in love, no problem. You can do what you want. But if you prefer living in hate or fear, those laws will break you. Their nature is destruction. Just thought you might want to know that.”

“That’s not fair!” you rail. “What if I want to live in fear and hate?”

And God smiles sadly and says, “Sorry, that’s just the way life works. I love life and love. But you can still do it your way as long as you last.”

That takes us to the other problem– we don’t trust. And in tandem with that, for many of us, we don’t believe we are lovable, or at least don’t believe we are loved. Others believe they are loved but can’t feel it because they can’t receive.

It’s complicated–so much programming, so many words we heard that we took in and believed. Sometimes the words were even innocent, and we twisted them, hurting ourselves, like, “Oh what a beautiful baby!” And we are standing there thinking, “I must be ugly. That’s why nobody likes me anymore.”

Believe it or not, that sticks, and we build more lies on it and reinforce it, until we believe we aren’t possible to love.

If we are fortunate, we tell someone how we feel, and they don’t blow us off but lovingly help us get it straightened out.

If not, we may go through life emotionally crippled, unable to take in and believe God’s love, unable to experience it. We build up all kinds of defenses like walls around us trying to protect ourselves. We think we are keeping out hurt, and we do to an extent, but mostly we are keeping out love.

God says He is love, and He loves us wildly, enough to become human (That is HUGE!) and be treated like the worst human of all time! (more HUGE!)

But it won’t do us any good if we don’t believe and receive–live in it. He Helps. Just ask.

 

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