Spiritual Discipline and the Life-Changing Magic of Podcasts

At some point in my younger life I remember coming to a crisis of faith when I realized how much hard work it took to maintain a sense of spiritual discipline, personal alignment, and connectedness to God. It was not the kind of thing that I could sign up for a membership to and then become part of the “spiritual” club. It was more like being selected for the Olympics and spending the rest of my career in intense training and neck-and-neck competition.

I felt like maybe there was something wrong with me that I needed to devote so much time to reading, praying, journaling just to feel like my life was truly fruitful. To be honest, it made me resentful of the Christian faith and the way God set things up for the human soul. (Or mine at least!)

Fast forward 10 years later… I feel as though I have experienced the intellectual parallel to the spiritual richness I used to invest my time in. Why? Cuz podcasts. Listening to a podcast is like receiving a dose of mental fertilizer.

During maternity leave, I became addicted to podcasts. After years of watching a lot of Netflix and Hulu, the results of podcast listening have been the exact opposite. I constantly have new ideas and ambitions, insights to share with friends, conversation starters for dinner with Zack, and a feeling of wonder and excitement to be living in the world. When I would spend my leisure time watching television, on the other hand, I felt like I often did not have much to contribute to conversations because nobody cares what happened to Reina and Deacon in the show Nashville. Seriously, nobody cares. I also regularly would feel drained of my motivation to get things done when TV was an option. (One exception was So You Think You Can Dance. Watching those graceful creatures perform emotional and magical choreography always started my engines.)

To my point.

I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that the soul, the body, the mind, and the heart require constant feeding and pruning in order to be in optimal condition. If I want my brain to be productive and engaged, I need to be learning new things, being creative, meditating. If I want my body to be pain free and able to do the work demanded of it as a mom and a wife and a employee and a woman… then I need to feed it well, rest well, and exercise it frequently. If I want my heart to be loving, I need to practice gratitude every day and speak kindly to the people I love, and forgive quickly when my feelings are hurt.

The way that I am designed is that wholeness is not an automatic reaction to waking up in the morning. The quadrants of my interior life and exterior life require everything I have to give. Every day. And that includes my spiritual life. Having seen so much life pour out of my cognitive renaissance inspires me to reinvigorate my soul, rebuild my muscles that allowed me to practice God’s presence, and actively observe his handiwork in the people and the spaces around me. If I want to experience God’s presence and hear his voice then I will need to practice spiritual disciplines and invite silence long enough for me to listen. I can’t just go about my normal life and assume that the spiritual alignment of my younger years can carry me through middle age. Use it or lost it – it takes work just like physical fitness and relational health and mental fortitude.

This is something I have needed to come to terms with for a while. Today, I relinquish my resentment that spiritual health requires my full attention. And I pray in earnest that the spooky, gracious, very real Holy Ghost would help me re-calibrate my character to Jesus.

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