Good Things

I know I’m weird, but I love working out and eating healthy.

It brings me so much joy and fulfillment – even on the drab, mundane days.

As long as I do a little something good for myself every day,  then I’m able to show up and be there for others.

Mentally, I’m in one of the best places I’ve ever been.

Physically, I’m feeling good and working hard without hurting myself.

But what about spiritually?

I’ll be honest, it sometimes feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day (or enough energy for me) to invest in everything that matters to me.

It’s easy to invest in what I’m excited about.

Right now I’m excited about minimalism, nutrition, fitness, and homeschooling.

But spirituality? Not as much.

Spiritual health is a lot like working out, actually. I see the biggest gains when I invest my time and energy into it.

When my spiritual life is a priority, I see it flourish and grow. But when I let it take the back burner, it can easily become stagnant.

“I’ll come back to it later, when I feel like it.”

Like working out, my spiritual walk requires discipline, patience, intentionality, and self-control.

It’s easy to get caught up in other things. Not just “sinful” things, but “good” things.

Sometimes “good” things can distract us from our faith.

It can be harder with these so-called “good” things than with the “bad” things because my conscience isn’t telling me not to do them.

If I want to do Good Things like workout, read about nutrition, or take my kids to the park, what’s the big deal?

The truth is, there’s more to life than those things. It may sound cliché, or even cheesy, but life isn’t about the Good Things. It’s about the God Things.

There is a big picture – a greater good – that is so easy to lose sight of when I’m all wrapped up in my own routine. Unfortunately, many “good” people have fallen into this. (I’m speaking to myself here!)

Those Good Things aren’t bad. But on their own, they aren’t enough. Here’s why.

Good Things Are From God

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:7

Ultimately, all Good Things are from him. So all Good Things should point me directly to him anyway. If they don’t, I’m failing to give him adequate thanks and credit.

It’s easy to turn my focus from a God who gives Good Gifts to his children, to the Good Thing itself.

It’s easy to make working out its own religion.

I do it daily, it centers me, it makes me feel productive. It gets me out of bed, clears my mind, makes me stronger, creates discipline and routine.

It’s great, but endorphins aren’t the Holy Spirit. They are just a small glimpse of the joy that he himself can bring.

Stop adoring the thing itself. Start adoring God.

These Good Things are just a glimpse of his goodness.

Why wouldn’t I want more of that?

Why wouldn’t I run toward rather than away from the one who supplies all my needs and showers me with dozens of little Good Things everyday?

Good Things Won’t Get Us Through

Good Things have limitations. Good Things can’t sustain us through when bad times come. They just can’t.

Good Things can certainly help take the edge off, but they can’t give us life.

When stuff goes wrong, and life throws a curveball, Good Things aren’t enough. That’s when we need something more – something truly life-giving.

Working out takes the edge off when I just need a small mood boost.

But endorphins won’t get me through life’s ups and downs.

Endorphins won’t get me through tragedies.

Endorphins are just the icing on the cake.

Same with anything that makes me happy but isn’t life-giving.

Worship is an example of something that is spiritually life-giving to me.

I don’t do it often enough, but when I take the time to put on headphones and dance or meditate in prayer to worship music, I feel filled.

I feel joy.

I feel God’s closeness.

It’s fuel for my spiritual life tank.

Sunshine and working out fill up my happy tank, but worship and community fill up my life tank.

Good Things Are Meant to Be Shared

Yes, God has been good to me. But it doesn’t end there.

I’m not called to hoard his gifts, I’m called to share them – and by doing so spread his goodness to the whole earth.

Sometimes a Good Thing can be turned into a God Thing when it is shared.

I could start teaching a nutrition class for low-income families. I could invite my refugee friends on bikes and runs. I could teach immigrant children to read alongside my own kids.

I realize we all need moments of solitude and self-care. 

I strongly believe in taking care of myself and setting healthy boundaries so I have more to give when I do serve.

But community is one of my family’s core values.

We believe that life isn’t meant to be lived in isolation, but something to be shared and celebrated together.

One person gives freely, yet gains even more;

another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.

A generous person will prosper;

whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

Proverbs 11:24-25

Community can be difficult.

People are complicated.

We all disappoint and let each other down sometimes.

Yet this is the life we believe God has called us to.

Following him isn’t always easy, but it is certainly life-giving.

Sometimes my dreams are too small.

Sometimes my plans are only about me.

Am I alone in this?

What Good Things might God be calling you to lay down or expand or build on for his kingdom? 

How can your thinking change? How can we turn our Good Things into God Things?

Photo by Marissa Irakoze

Postscript: I actually did have the opportunity to co-teach a class on nutrition for refugees in my area this month! It’s always amazing when passions and callings align.

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