Why Bother With Spiritual Wellness?

Why Bother With Spiritual Wellness?

Our mental wellness is tied to managing and caring about all the different aspects of our lives—the emotional and physical self, the spiritual, intellectual, and social self as well as our environmental, interpersonal and occupational areas. We are complex creatures and when all of these systems work in congruence to one another, the result is mental stability. But when they are incongruent, acting against one another, chaos reigns. 

Though each of these areas of our mental wellness are interconnected, I thought it wise to break them apart and look at them individually. I know my writer’s group would say that this is better to do than to dump the big idea of mental wellness into the lap of my audience and then leave the load and move on. Thank God for my writer’s group!

        Remember you are Dust

It is the season of Lent. In Christian terms, it lasts forty days, not including Sundays. It began on Wednesday, March 2, and will end on Thursday, April 14, just before the Passover and Easter Sunday. Growing up in a Catholic family, I remember Ash Wednesday. It was a somber event at church. I knelt at the altar along with my whole family while the priest dipped his thumb into a container of ash and  made the sign of the cross on my forehead. He repeated the same words to every person kneeling at the altar, “Remember you are dust. From dust you came, and to dust you shall return.” 

Though I no longer practice the rituals associated with my Catholic upbringing, the words from my past still ring true. We are all mortals and no one gets out of here alive. Our lives will expire, but unlike the expiration date stamped on a carton of milk, we have no idea when our time on Earth is finished. 

With several thousand different religions churches, denominations, religious bodies, faith groups, tribes, cultures, and movements we have our pick of spiritual practices. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to religion. 

But one thing I know is true: as  mortal humans, we long to have meaning and purpose. We desire a present hope, as well as a future hope. To simply believe that we “work hard and then die” or that “the one with the most toys wins” is too hollow sounding and narcissistic for most of us. And because we cannot take our toys or our money with us, we look for something beyond ourselves. 

The pursuit of our spiritual wellness is a journey. The path is not linear, and at times invisible. But along this course, there ought to be some benefits, some fruit, some kind of transformation from the inside out. If we are not becoming kinder, more forgiving and more generous with our love, then my practice is in vain. If I don’t pause to wonder, bubble over with joy at times, or have any peace, then again, my spiritual practice is not good. To be spiritually well means that my rituals will somehow shape me into something better. But if there are no changes,  then why bother? 

Why bother with spiritual wellness? There are benefits to a good spiritual practice—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control, the kinds of things that give us a present hope, a future hope and a purpose.

Why Bother Being Realistic?

Why Bother Being Realistic?

What is something everyone lacks and yet wishes to possess?  I’m just taking a guess here, but as human beings, I think we’d like to possess full knowledge and understanding before making any decision so that we could prevent something “bad” or “wrong” from happening in our lives. I know I’m taking a risk here with this next statement but, I don’t think I am the only one who has attempted to reach toward that pinnacle called perfection only to fall down empty handed. 

If Only

If only I’d known, then I would have….If only I’d known then I could have… Hindsight is 20/20, but we don’t live our lives in a backward motion. Instead, we live them, step by step, going in a forward motion.  Looking back to learn from our blunder, an error in judgement or misstep is one thing. Looking back to devalue, deflate or depreciate ourselves only gives our inner critic fodder that we later hurl at ourselves. Regret, like quicksand, is an infinite sinkhole pulling us down, not forward. 

What If

But, what if we kept walking, steadily, step by step, in a forward motion, glancing back, only with the intent to gain wisdom from the blunders? What if we were to have sane and realistic expectations of ourselves and others?  What if we knew that perfection was not the goal and remembered that we are human beings, not superheroes? If we live within our limits, then we know we cannot swoop into someone’s life to “fix” the “wrong” and make everything “right as rain.”  Neither can they do that for us.  Even at our best, we are awkward, imperfect and only guessing at which step might be the next best one to take in life.  

Even Though

We all possess an expiration date. Our days are numbered and time slips or ticks into the future for each of us. Though our humanness has its limitations and we cannot see into the future to prevent our next blunder, we do not lack a wide variety of opportunities to grab a hold of with each new day.

If you are reading this post, that means that today you are alive. Like me, you get to put one wobbly foot in front of the other and walk in a forward motion. Today we have the choice to laugh or cry with someone, hug or hurt someone, accept or reject kindness from someone.  

None of us are any less in the dark about what lies ahead, after all, we are only human. But as humans, we have the choice to choose gratitude over morose and hope instead of despair. In doing so, we hold each other steady.  

Why bother to be realistic? It is worth it to live within the realm of our humanity. After all, that is where all humans live. Sometimes we just have to remind each other.