The other day (the 10th) was World Suicide Prevention Day. I’ve said it in multiple media, but if you’ve ever considered harming yourself, please, please talk to someone you trust. You can talk to me. I understand, I promise. I’ve been there.
That being said, if you know someone who’s depressed, the best thing you can do is listen to them and be there for them. No advice, unless they ask for it. Be Jesus to them and let them know that they’re loved and wanted and cared for. They may not believe you; keep telling them and showing them anyway.
I say all this because, as I’ve alluded to, I’ve been having a pretty hard time this year, and a bunch of people have made sure to look after me, and a couple of weeks ago I got hit by a wave of gratitude so hard that it made me ugly-cry. So spread kindness. You might be saving someone’s life. I hope I can be that kind of person.
That being said, I’ve also been learning this year that I’m not as empathetic of a person as I’d like to be, and that kind of sucks. I mean, it *is* kind of hard to be empathetic when you’re in the middle of a depressive cycle. But I’m like that when I’m healthy, too, unfortunately, because I am by nature someone who lives inside of my own head a lot, and unless I really work at it, it’s easy for me to be really self-righteous and judgy and to look at people and be like, “Come on, get it together” when they really, sincerely cannot get it together for whatever reason. And quite honestly, that is a terrible, unkind way to relate to people, and I want to be more like Jesus in this regard.
But like I keep thinking about this year, virtue is like anything: It has to be worked at and practiced. Godliness has to be put on like you put your clothes on every day. And eventually it becomes really familiar and second-nature, and you don’t have to really think about it, you just do it, but it takes practice.
There’s a song we’ve been singing at church called “That I May Please You.” It’s really simple melodically and lyrically, based on part of Hebrews 10: “I deserve much worse than this/I have trampled underfoot/And regarded as unclean Your Spirit and Your blood.” It goes on like this, a confession and a prayer to be made clean and whole, and why? “That I may please You and exalt You/In my body and my mind.” The phrase “in my body and my mind” has really stuck with me, especially as in this year I feel like I’m really starting to get that God actually cares about what I do with my body and how I feel about it–that He wants me to eat well and exercise and be chaste because my body belongs to Him, not me. Same goes for how I think and what I think about. So. This has been a good prayer for me.
But it’s also a cry of praise, because I do sin in my body and my mind. I deserve much worse than what I receive. But God has washed me clean and is making me whole. Hallelujah.
Doctor Who is back (yay).
Current reads: Desiring the Kingdom (on how Christian worship forms Christian education, especially as that worship is enacted in physical space–against the belief that we’re all just idea buckets and that the body doesn’t matter); Onward (from the head of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Council, on loving our neighbors well while being people of conviction); thinking about starting up Harry Potter again
Actually, here’s a quote from Desiring the Kingdom:“Being a disciple of Jesus is not primarily a matter of getting the right ideas and doctrines and beliefs into your head in order to guarantee proper behavior; rather, it’s a matter of being the kind of person who *loves* rightly–who loves God and neighbor and is oriented to the world by the primacy of that love. We are made to be such people by our immersion in the material practices of Christian worship–through affective impact, over time, of sights and smell in water and wine” (p.32-33).
Back to the body and worship: What we do with our bodies affects our souls, and vice versa, which is something I’ve believed for years, but I think I’m just now coming around to understanding. For example, what does the way my church sets up in the YMCA gym teach me about worship? What does kneeling during prayer do, as opposed to standing or sitting or lying down? What difference does it make if I cross myself or not? What do physical rituals teach my soul? These are still things I’m kind of working out.
I do know one thing: Physical ritual grounds me more firmly in the real world, which, as someone who lives inside my own head a lot and has occasionally had trouble dealing with my own thoughts, has been really, really helpful for me in healing. Just saying.
Oh, and also, how does this affect how I think about eating and exercise? Or how should it, I guess.
I say this right after I’ve discovered this website called Joy the Baker and she posted a recipe today for PB&J sandwich DONUTS, which I shouldn’t eat because a) although likely extremely delicious, they are probably also terrible for you (probably?!), and b) I’m one of those people who shouldn’t eat gluten because it does all kinds of bad things to my body (although, to be completely honest I still eat it sometimes anyway [and usually feel like crap afterwards]). But knowing that, I still kind of am curious about them, so what does a good theology of the body tell me about this now?
If you’re reading this the week it was published, for the love of everything good, go listen to the cast recording for Hamilton at NPR’s website here. If you don’t know anything about the show, read this. And then be astonished at the music.
There’s a lyric from a song on that album that I can’t get out of my head: “Love doesn’t discriminate / Between the sinners and the saints / It takes and it takes and it takes / But we keep loving anyway.” My musings on this may turn into a whole separate post, stay tuned.
Ummmm what else.
Still working, still doing the stuff. November and December are probably going to be 20 kinds of busy, so I’m trying to get ready for that. My friends’ wedding, maybe going to a conference, then the holidays and all that that entails–plenty to keep me out of trouble (or get me into it :p).
Oh, yes. Today’s the equinox. We’re finally tipping over into fall, or whatever approximation we have of it in Houston. The light is a little more golden. The sun rises later and sets earlier. It’s kind of cooler, and I’m wearing more plaid shirts again. This is the best time of year for me–if I could keep the station tuned to autumn all year, I think I would. But there is a season for everything, including seasons, and heaven has its purposes even for Texas summers.
That’s all, friends. I love you. Thanks for being here.