Afraid of falling?
Finding balance in our lives through spiritual disciplines.
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Bailey McBride | The Christian Chronicle
I am afraid of falling.

Bailey McBride | InsightI have fallen only one time in my adult life. My grandson-in-law was giving the family a tour of the school where he had been teaching for two and a half years in Costa Rica. I was carrying his 10-month-old son, and we were on a sloping surface that shifted from concrete to metal when I began to lose my balance.

I fell, clutching Amos so close that he was frightened, but not hurt. I had minor cuts and bruises, but since then I have been very cautious facing stairs without a handrail or footing that feels unsure. I’ve come to recognize how importance balance is to my walk.

Balance in life is important to our well being. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, as the proverb goes. It also shortens his life. I have many friends — male and female — who work 50 and 60 hours every week. They shrug it off as not a big deal, but in two or three years I see big changes in their mood and appearance. When I was at that stage of my life, I quickly learned that my creativity and reasoning ability were diminished by that schedule.
(PHOTO FROM PIXABAY.COM)

I began testing ways to help renew myself. A power nap could make a 12-hour work day more effective, I learned. Shutting out all thoughts of work for a Saturday and just enjoying family made the next week go well.

After about 10 years with that routine, I realized that I needed more time to escape the grind. I was able to arrange my time so that I left the office at noon one Friday a month, so we left town for a few hours of fun. Each person has to find a way to balance work and leisure so that productivity remains high, and life is fun.
'People of faith need time and activities to develop their spiritual lives.'
The focus of life in America makes education a central part of childhood and young adulthood. But a balanced life must include the growth of the mind throughout life. One of my intellectual heroes is a musician who always is studying the lives of important thinkers and writers. Another friend reads a novel each night for an hour. Casual reading is not the same as the energetic reading to learn more than the superficial ideas about a subject. Reading outside your comfort zone or special interests will help balance your thinking.

(PHOTO FROM PIXABAY.COM)People of faith need time and activities to develop their spiritual lives. Developing a regimen for growing spiritually is really important. I first discovered spiritual disciplines when I was asked to teach a class on prayer for a group at church. I bought several books, but the one that provided the best information and inspiration was Richard J. Foster’s “Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home.” In the opening, Foster explains the role and power of discipline in developing a life of prayer that goes beyond the basic praise and petition. His analysis of prayer taught me that prayer can deal with a multitude of subjects. More than anything else, he helped show me that every aspect of my life should be the subject of thoughtful, soul-searching prayer.

A second spiritual discipline that can have positive benefit in our efforts to balance our lives is fasting. The idea of the fast is to give something up and put a spiritual matter in its place. A fast may be from food, sex, entertainment, cell phones or internet searches.

I have tried all kinds of fasts to focus attention on God. I get the most benefit from food fasts. Once, after studying Isaiah for more than 14 weeks, I decided I would give up food and focus all my waking time for three days on reviewing the prophet’s words systematically. That fast was one of the most meaningful and enlightening experiences of my life.

Other spiritual disciplines that I will discuss in the future are Scripture reading, worship and service.

The world has such a powerful hold on us that we need the spiritual disciplines to help us balance our lives.

Contact: bailey.mcbride@christianchronicle.org
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