For the last couple of years, I’ve been trying to pay very close attention to warning signs about my spiritual health.[1. And my physical health, of course, but that’s not the purpose of this post.] In 2015, I hit a wall, where I realized I was running on empty due to various circumstances. Throughout 2016, I made a number of changes to my lifestyle, my reading habits, and my writing schedule to allow me space to get healthier.
As one year moved into the next, I wanted to build on the good foundation that had been laid and keep going.
Then 2017 actually happened.
This year has been a demanding one, and I don’t think I can fully separate the professional from the personal. For me, they’re too interconnected, which is generally the nature of jobs that are connected to ministry. The workload itself is right around my sweet spot for capacity, which is a good thing since I’m never bored. However, while I don’t think I’ve been neglectful of my family, I do definitely struggle to turn “off” work when I’m at home.
It’s also the first year I’ve experienced panic attacks, near-crippling anxiety, and several other challenges. Much of this has been the result of the stress I’ve lived with for several years, as well as the ongoing effects of our move to America, including planning for our longer-term future here. That stress isn’t going away, so I need to figure out how to cope with it better.
That sounds mostly negative, but it really isn’t. There’s been a lot of great things that have happened this year as well. Although it took some time, we settled into a church here in Franklin. Emily and the kids are starting to make friends both in and out of the church. We’re serving and contributing, which I’m grateful for the opportunity to do.
But I’m not going to pretend that it hasn’t been a challenging year. And 2018 looks to be equally challenging, although in different ways.
So what am I doing to protect my spiritual health and grow during this time?
Ultimately, it comes down to continuing to prioritize three disciplines: reading, praying, and resting.
Reading: Continue my practice of reading the Bible on a daily basis, and do all I can to protect and prioritize that time. In addition, making sure my reading habits are well-balanced and fruitful to my soul. One thing I want to try in 2018 is a chronological reading plan. We’ll see if I get there, though.
Praying: Continue to prioritize prayer as a proactive discipline, rather than a reactive one.
Resting: Trying to prioritize sleep and taking real days of rest. To recognize my limitations as a finite human being and honor those limitations while avoiding the sin of workaholism.
Will I be successful? Only God knows. But I do know that if I accomplish each of these in part, even if not in whole, I will be healthier as a result.