Stress and Spiritual Rhythms

There’s a scale in our bathroom.  Every time I go in there to take a shower or do my business, I look at it and think, “I wonder what number would come back up at me if I were to stand on that thing.”  Over the last year, it has brought nothing but depressing results.  Beginning with the time that we went to weekly services last April, I’ve gained 20 lbs.  I don’t like getting heavier for a variety of reasons: have to buy new clothes, embarrassed to be in pictures, etc.  But more than anything else, my weight gain symbolizes something else, something deeper.  It reflects that I haven’t been healthy.  I haven’t keep up with exercising and I’ve chosen to deal with stress by overeating.

I have a number of rhythms I try and follow as defined in my Rule of Life to keep myself from getting to this point.  I set out goals for exercise, prayer, reading, spiritual direction, small group participation, giving, and much more.  I know that I have to follow this Rule of Life to stay healthy, because if I don’t my capacity to bear stress diminishes.  I become less adept at adroitly assuaging my anger.  I become more inclined to indulge.  And I end up lacking in the leadership skills that being a pastor and a dad requires.

So as I’ve looked down at the growing number on the scale, I’ve come to accept that I need to re-double my commitment to my Rule of Life.  For me that begins with swimming.  I’ve re-connected with the Masters Swimming team that I used to swim on.  We swim from 6-7am every morning Monday-Friday.  I hate getting up at 5:30am knowing that I’m going to get punished at practice, but I believe that it is essential for me being healthy.  Over the last two weeks I’ve swum 7 times.  I’m feeling pretty good about my start, and I hope to keep it going.  Right now, exercise is the part of my Rule of Life I need to be the most vigilant about keeping.

Do you have a Rule of Life or rhythms that you keep to stay healthy?  If not, here are some great resources for developing your own:


3 responses to “Stress and Spiritual Rhythms”

  1. How do you find time to do all this? Swimming, prayer, meditation! You’re far more disciplined than me. 🙂

  2. Drew Stark Avatar
    Drew Stark

    applause applause…I’ve been struggling with this myself! not the weight gain, but weight loss. That’s what happens to me when I’m stressed out. I don’t overeat, I undereat, or rather, my body eats itself. I need to exercise, not only to be healthy, so work off stress, to gain muscle, but just because it gives me more of an appetite and then I eat more healthy things. I know, I know, most people say they would kill to have my problem, but it’s really the same as yours, just on the opposite spectrum. And it equates to matters of the spirit as well…when I’m not on spiritually/socially, I am not on physically. Keep it up, John!

  3. Thanks for the applause and thoughts Drew and Frank. I feel the love! 🙂