Did you ever read Eat Pray Love? It’s a true story about a woman who “finds herself” by travelling to Italy, India and Indonesia (Bali): Italy to discover pleasure (much of it through food), India to discover God (while she lives in an ashram), and Indonesia to put it all together to find balance. There’s this part–I don’t remember who said it–where it is said that even too much focus on spiritual things is not good.
There needs to be a balance between pleasure, secular learning, and spiritual growth. If you think about it, embracing [wholesome] pleasure and secular learning–in a way–is also embracing God, for He gives us all things that are good, and knowledge never goes to waste (it’s the one thing we can take with us when we die).
Most people have things that they are passionate about. I’m passionate about health. In my recent past I’ve been very passionate about parenting and photography. I love nature and care about our planet and its inhabitants. It’s easy for me to spend lots of time on these things and I believe it is all good. I’m so grateful that people are passionate about secular things because if they weren’t, there are so many good causes that would go by the wayside, and there would be so much information that we wouldn’t have. There wouldn’t be great works of art and beautiful architecture to enjoy. There wouldn’t be breakthroughs in women’s rights. There wouldn’t be national parks. There wouldn’t be any healthy food left in this country. Thank goodness for passionate people–they enrich all of our lives.
But how much of our lives should be spiritually based? This question is hard to answer. I mean, the very core of my being is fueled by my faith and spiritual beliefs. My faith and religious beliefs bleed out into all aspects of my life and are a major part of my character. A very huge percentage of my being is spiritual. And yet, I do not pour over scriptural texts for hours every day. I don’t meditate or ponder spiritual things on a daily basis. I don’t say prayers all day long. I’m not out and about serving the needy or sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with people. My whole life isn’t focused on spiritual things; however, I could do better. I do pray every night and read at least a little bit of scripture when I remember to (I go through phases where it’s daily, and phases where it’s more like weekly), I attend church weekly, I read the lessons from our lesson book, I subscribe to our church magazine and read an article here and there, I plan and lead the music for church…and I am honest, I treat others with kindness and respect, I devote myself to my family and do my best to take care of them, and in general I do things as I believe Christ would want me to. I have a lot of faith, a strong testimony and a great amount of love for people.
I wonder to myself what is an ideal balance. I know that the missionaries in our church pretty much live and breathe the Gospel and all things spiritual for up to two years, but then when they get off their missions they sometimes sway into the other direction–complacence, church inactivity–for a little while, regaining a sense of balance, I suppose. Or even if they stay strong in the church without having a little “break” they never continue living life like a missionary. But those are young men and women I’m talking about. I think about our church leaders–much older, much wiser, much more life experience behind them–and I bet they are able to live comfortably with a lot more spiritual focus in their lives. And I think that therein lies the answer–it’s progressive. We just keep trying to squeeze in the spiritual “homework”–saying prayers, attending church, reading scriptures, doing service–until we eventually are able to embrace them into habits that enrich our lives without feeling burdensome. This isn’t something we should expect ourselves to do overnight or even within a few years. A lifetime may be what it takes. Maybe it will take time beyond the grave–in fact, I’m sure it will for most of us. The important thing is to just keep trying.
But still. I wonder what is right for me right now? Something has been really nagging at me lately. In fact, I think I know the answer to my question but just haven’t got to it yet. Service. I need to be giving more service to others. I feel a need to help the homeless. I also have three ladies from church I’m supposed to be visiting on a regular basis, and I have not been doing that. How many times in the scriptures does it say to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, visit the sick and the afflicted? It’s one of the fundamental aspects of the Gospel of Christ. I know I serve my family and I do service with the music at church…but there are others who need me. This means I need to give up some time, make a sacrifice. I think I trick myself into thinking I don’t have the time, when really I do. I just need to do a little here and there, that’s not so much.
What about you? Do you feel you get enough spiritual nourishment in your life?