Lent can really get us asking questions about our spiritual health and finding honest answers about our relationship with Christ.
It can also help us find a new place to start spiritually or finding our niche to keep this up for the duration. I find that it's the test of endurance AFTER the six weeks of Lent that really measures my fitness level.
Let's be honest. I'm trying to find the endurance to keep plugging along in the third week of Lent, let alone the all out marathon that keeps on afterward.
I'm finding though, that spiritual health and growth are very prudent and necessary to my physical well being too.
Our parish priest graciously bought each family in our parish the book The Four Signs Of A Dynamic Catholic by Matthew Kelly. He has asked us to read it prayerfully over lent and he will expand on each chapter in his Sunday homily. (Have you read it yet? I highly recommend it.)
Last week I was struck by Matthew Kelly's words:
'One of the key indicators of spiritual health seems to be gratitude. When I am spiritually healthy I am grateful. But when I am not, even the smallest things drive me crazy. At those times I tend to be irritable, restless, and discontented.' (page 41)
Straight to the heart, "Ah-ha" moment!
How true! I have felt this so many times, but didn't always make the connection. When my heart is restless, I am irritable, (seemingly) nothing goes right and life is drudgery, I am guilty of being less grateful. I then made the connection that those times are also times when my prayer time isn't fulfilled or I just plain didn't make the time.
Matthew Kelly also frequently mentions in the book becoming the 'best-version-of-myself'. I love this term. When I am irritable, restless and discontented, I am not my best version of me. In fact, I get even more irritable and frustrated at myself that I am not.
This Lenten season I am trying to stay the course and follow through with what I set out to do. I am striving to match both my spiritual and physical exercise to build a better me. The best version of myself, if you will. I've done this before, but rarely have I been able to keep the physical and spiritual equally balanced. I find that the morning is the best time, most suitable time, to start my day in prayer. Most days I am also getting the exercise time in as well right away in the morning.
Can I tell you how much better my days are going even when they are less than ideal? How much more gratitude is in my heart and contentment even in the midst of trial?
I have often equated spiritual fitness and physical fitness as two separate entities. Over these last six+ months of my being physically fit and in shape, I have started to see how closely intertwined the two really are.
'To run the race of Catholic motherhood, we need to strengthen ourselves emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. Part of this means building our stamina through fitness, exercise, good nutrition, and proper sleep.' (A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms by Lisa Hendey, page 41)
I can attest to all of this and I know what a difference it has made for me. And what a difference it made in my thinking when I realized how all aspects fit together.
As I strive to keep on getting more spiritually healthy, I hope that it will also give me the endurance for my physical fitness goals as well.
(You have no idea how many prayers I'm praying when I try to bust my butt and run just a little further when I hop on that treadmill!)
This Lent is a season of journeying. Let my Lenten practices continue as I run the marathon of life toward becoming the best-version-of-myself that God created me to be.