I’ve put on about seven-to-ten pounds in the last month or two. And it’s no mystery why.
I have eaten a lot. A lot of sweets, especially. I’ve been waking up shaking in a cold-sweat, sneaking to the kitchen at all hours to do lines of sugar off the counter.
But it’s definitely not just the sweets. At one point I ate five chili-dogs within a twenty four period. That’s a problem.
I also stopped exercising. I’ve worked out twice in 2014. I used to get after it about three times a week. Now I’m down to once a week, if I’m lucky.
Hence the increased poundage.
On a related note, I’ve also been a bit of a bear towards my wife. I’m still doing all the things I always do: I help out around the house, help keep the kiddo fed and watered, and assist in making sure our lives keep running smoothly. But I’ve been a bit of a jerk about it.
There’s a connection, of course. My body feels sluggish and out of sync, so everything else suffers. Or maybe I should say everyone else suffers.
Somewhere along the road, I accepted this tenet of Catholicism: I am not just a body…nor am I just a soul.
They interact. They affect each other. When I don’t take care of one, the other suffers. That’s because they are both me.
I think this is one of the most important realizations in my journey: The Church says yes to all of me. My body, my soul, my good and my bad. All of it.
It doesn’t always seem that way. When I first started trying to find a relationship with Jesus, I really struggled. I knew that the (seemingly) Puritanical tendencies of so many on my college’s campus couldn’t be right. They annoyed me too much to be right. And they always seemed so bored.
But as I went along, I found that my idea of how to find God was wrong as well. I would occasionally sit in quiet chapels and pray, I would do random fasts, I participated in accountability groups and Bible studies intermittently, but I knew I was still a slave at the feet of the master. I was not His friend.
What I learned about the life of my soul is the same thing I know (and ignore) about the life of my body.
Flourishing is the result of a lifestyle.
I have always struggled to stay fit because I don’t want to live the lifestyle required. I can’t just run a few miles on the rare occasion that I feel like it. It would take more, more than I want to give, if I’m being honest.
I like to exercise. I really do. But to be as healthy as I could be, it would require a real change in my whole eating philosophy. But I still want to eat cookies after dinner and pizza every Friday. I still want to drink a Cherry Coke every day with my lunch. I still want unlimited access to chili-dogs.
What I have failed to do with the health of my body, I have finally started to do with the health of my soul. I have found a new level of freedom from some of my most obvious sins. I have set aside time every day, not just most days or weekdays or days when I’m feeling well, for mental prayer with Scripture. I’ve started to change how I spend my free time and what I devote my energies to as I learn more about what makes my prayer life tick.
I have begun changing the way I live my life, and that’s what has made me healthier in the spiritual realm. The same would work for my body.
The point I’m trying to get at is this: It seems that our bodies and souls exist similarly, are governed by the same rules, are subject to the same powers, and that seems to be because we are composite beings. They are both us.
So if what’s true for the body is true for the soul, then the fact that men’s bodies are different than women’s means there is probably a soul-difference as well.
And this was the beginning of my understanding of what gender really is. It starts with the fact that there’s a real difference between men and women.
I wanted so badly to believe the message our culture delivers, which is that gender is a cosmetic, surface level difference, one that might be changed if we’d like.
By if there’s a difference at the physical level, it stands to reason there’s a difference at the spiritual level too. At least, they operate the same in all other ways – why would this be different?
The reason I wanted to believe what the culture told me is that it seemed self-evident to me that men and women were equal in dignity. So the question I faced is what is the difference and how can they be different without one being better than the other?
I suppose that will be the topic of the next post.