Glad I’m Not January

After a tough start to winter this year, we finally had some days where we could go outside and not have the wind freeze our flesh. It was quite the treat.  As I walked around the yard I noticed that the snow was deeper than I remembered it being and that getting that snow in your boots is cold.  Over on one side of the yard sat the Christmas tree, waiting in line to be burned in the fire pit during the summer. It still looks really green, but is not as nice as it was in the living room.  In my hands were Christmas lights that for whatever reason decided to stop working, ironically just like my preteen son.  And then it hit me:  I would sure hate to be January.

January — brrr

December gets all the hype, fun lights, gifts, movies,elves, and sweet treats.  November gets Thanksgiving which takes food and football and merges them together in merriment.  What does January get?  Dark days and nights.  Cold temperatures.  Frozen pipes. Cars that won’t start. Ice covered roads.  Garage doors that break. (yes, the replacement of the aforementioned door is happening this week– could be a blog post in that)  All of this and the let down emotionally that Christmas has now come and gone once again.  Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the seasons of the year.   I look foward to them in fact.  It is just that January seems to get left out of the fun, like that one friend that nobody thinks to call and invite to the movie.  Thankfully February shares candy hearts early with everyone, which makes us look forward to spring and February 15th when they get marked down to 50% off.

Yet, as I thought about this I realized that there is a lot of joy to be had in January.  Life is full of adventure and experiences.  Winter sports are in full swing.  Movie nights in the warmth of the living room are a nice treat that does not happen in the summer.  Getting out the skis is a fun activity that even the littlest among us can figure out pretty quickly. (I mean how can you look at her and not smile?)

Enjoy each day

Yes, I guess there is joy to be found in every month of the year.  It takes looking for something that will brighten your day and doing that.   For me it might be getting a cup of coffee and staring out the window for a while.  At other times I enjoy pulling my daughter around the yard in the sled or working on some project.  Whatever it is for you, get out and enjoy each day because each day is a true gift from God.   Yes, even January.



Wellness is a frosted cupcake

I feel like we are being inundated with the notion of wellness. The pressure has been put on the schools to do something to increase the wellness of the students  The school is even sending home brochures, as of late, informing us of what is a quality snack and what is to be avoided.  First of all, I think most people understand that eating a sheet cake for dinner every night is not a choice that promotes wellness. Secondly, what even is wellness?  They throw this term around like it is the ultimate place for us to live; a place of euphoria.  Listen, if this place does not allow cake and ice cream for birthdays, I don’t want to be there.  Eating a birthday treat is a risk I am willing to take.

That being said, I do understand what they are getting at.  I mean we do have an abundance of obesity in our country.  What I don’t see is why the school feels like it needs to develop a wellness policy that seems content on taking away any form of special foods in the classroom.  Do we not teach personal responsibility or self-control?  I know that there are times that I would like to eat a plate of cookies.  I also know there have been those times I have eaten a lot of cookies.  If I eat them, am I not well?   If I don’t eat them, am I well?   Wellness is about far more than simply not eating cupcakes, it is about a lifestyle.

The same temptation is there when it comes our faith in God in looking at what we appear to be and claiming we have wellness in our spiritual life. Some people will tell you that in order to have wellness as a Christian you need to simply avoid a few specific sinful things.  It is the view that says, “I don’t drink smoke or chew, or go with girls who do.”  That is not what it means to be well as a believer in Christ. We don’t measure ourselves against each other, our life is measured against God.

This discussion came up while talking with some high school students about sharing their faith.  There is a common misconception they are running into with their friends that assumes Christianity is simply about trying to be perfect.  Some of them have shared their faith with their friends only to be met with, “oh, so you are perfect then?”  Where does that come from?  If Christians were prefect, would a Savior be needed?  If Christians were perfect, would we need the church?  Obviously, perfection is not something we create in ourselves by simply avoiding the evil habits of the world.  It is something that we are given as a gift in Christ.  We are given wellness, not of our own creation, but by our relationship with Jesus Christ.  Ultimately it is this that matters, not our own feeble attempts at being sinless.

“Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.” Proverbs 11:4

“The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.” Proverbs 11:6

Sin is a death sentence both in the physical sense, but more importantly, in the spiritual one.  God as the source of righteousness, sets a standard, perfection, sinless perfection.  I guess that rules us out, doesn’t it?  Without Him rescuing us from sin, we would be overwhelmed by sin and never find our way out.  This is what sin does and we have a sin nature inside of us, that part of us bent naturally away from God.  There must be a way to be well; there must be a better way.

“Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will go free.” Proverbs 11:21

True wellness means experiencing that freedom.  Freedom tells sin it is not the boss of you anymore.  It tells sin, “I do not belong to you.”  The penalty that was due to you because of that sin is gone and you are able to walk and live in freedom that comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, so many people get caught up here because they feel like they have done something unforgivable.  That is that improper view of spiritual wellness again.  We could never get it completely right, that is why we need Jesus.  While it is important to follow rules and not get caught up in things that will take us away from God.  It is also important not to condemn ourselves when we find ourselves in sin.

Here is a wonderful illustration of this from the Skit Guys that I think helps illustrate how this plays out in our life.

Don’t get caught in the trap of comparing yourself to other people.  Wellness in Christ is not something we do, it is something we have obtained because of His work.  It is not simply about never eating cupcakes, it is about understanding the grace of God in our daily life and living within it.