Sitting alone in church on Sunday, I found myself actually pondering matters of spirituality instead of being distracted with my company. Sometimes I love distractions a little too much.
I always squirm at the phrase, "All or nothing," when it comes to spirituality, no matter the religion. Every week I hear from a speaker or someone commenting in class something like, "I know it is hard to read your scriptures every day, but we've got to. If we don't, we can't be close to Heavenly Father."
I cannot speak for everyone, but the God I believe in loves all of us. The God I believe in is my father and my creator. The God I believe in is like my own earthly father in that He will welcome me into His arms whenever I run to Him, even if I've been gone awhile.
I sat there, listening, trying to make sense of it all. Trying to find a way to talk with people when they come to me with heartbreaking questions like, "If I can't be all in, then I guess I have to be all out? I want this, but I just can't do it all."
We are human. We are prone to err. Isn't it ironic that we find ourselves constantly striving for perfection while realizing that "perfect" is a goal we will never reach?
Thinking of the perfect spirit lead my thoughts to the perfect body to house that spirit. Honestly, I've been struggling with my dear Gym lately. Oh, I still make it 4-6 times per week, but due to the medication from my recent diagnosis (which is totally minor, I'll admit, but a doozie of a blow on the body of someone who has N-E-V-E-R taken medicine), hunger is my constant companion no matter what I do/don't eat, my digestive system is a hater, and exhaustion plagues at least half of my day every day. What do all those things lead to? Disappointment and lack of motivation. The crazy thing about disappointment is that it leads to more disappointment. You've got to just pull your head up and keep fighting and plugging along or you'll succumb to a world of downers. Doggoneit, I'm tired. I wonder if all these doctor's appointments and medicines are worth it. I never felt any pain except a sore throat after singing too long before the medicine and now I feel crummy most of the time on this medication. At my last exam the doc hadn't noticed any improvement in the state of the acid damage around my vocal chords. Um? Don't worry, I have my first vocal therapy session on Thursday and I will sure as heck be talking about it. In the mean time, I've been pretty down on myself and struggling more than I care to admit...which is still quite minor when I compare myself to most of the world's population. The hope is that the medicine will heal the damage and the therapy will help my vocal chords and then I can learn to adapt my life to the world of laryngopharyngeal reflux without medication. Fingers crossed.
Back to the point.
How do we achieve the perfect body? Eating right and working out.
How do we achieve the perfect spirit? Partaking of the spirit of Christ and seeking additional opportunities to use that spirit to lift the world around us.
Kind of the same.
Just as you don't immediately die if you don't eat right or work out all the time, your spirit doesn't immediately die if you aren't constantly reading scriptures and praying.
Will you feel more physically healthy if you eat right and work out one day per week versus zero days? Absolutely.
Will you feel more spiritually healthy if you read your scriptures and pray one day per week versus zero? Absolutely.
Do those benefits increase with each additional day of trying to increase your physical or spiritual health? Absolutely!
Do what you can. If all you've got, if all you can possibly muster, is three days per week, then, by golly, you are doing three days per week! God's love for us is not, and has never been, "all or nothing."
Obviously the way to be closest to your Father in Heaven is to be working your hardest daily. We must recognize we are not all on the same level. Would you ask a 50-year old overweight man to do the same routine as an Olympic gymnast? No.
Do your best. Only you and your Father in Heaven know what that is.
Live long and prosper.