Friday, August 1, 2014

Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." --Psalms 51:10

Susan Spencer, Editor-in-Chief of Woman's Day Magazine, shared her response to shoulder pain this month in the August edition and I'll confess that I can relate. I have diagnosed myself with breast cancer, a gall stones, and multiple sclerosis within the last few years, all by visiting Web MD to staunchly accept my fate: every new ache or general malady and I'm convinced I'm terminal. 

Illness touches all and a lot of my concern stems from believing the worst can happen at any time--from knowing for certain that it can without reason. I just turned 35 a little over a week ago and I have considered that in five years I'll be forty and two women I know personally who are my age have already had double mastectomies. I am sorry for them and often I am sorry for myself, yet I realize that after years of abusing my body with the wrong foods and addictions, I deserve whatever illness I have welcomed upon myself, door flung wide open--off the hinges at times.

This month's Reader's Circle (so glad to have that back!) mentions Angela's Ashes as the featured "Bergen Book Buddies" favorite read. One of my favorite quotes from the book is "I am for who I was in the beginning, but now is present and I exist in the future." We exist, we existed, we will exist. We exist and how will we exit

The body, heart, mind, and soul--they are all connected. The abuse of one will demand the others to work overtime. We feed and nurture them all or we choose to neglect them all at once or one at a time. Deprive yourself of sleep, refuse to say no, confuse your priorities. Cleansing, purging, seeking, and the ultimate cycle of change can exist in the midst of whatever unfortunate events life offers. 

Ask yourself these questions over the month of August: 

1. Why is forgiveness important and who should I forgive?

2. What habit or behavior is in my life that makes me ashamed?

3. What one change do I want in my heart, body, and mind?

Sometimes the answers to these questions aren't deep. I believe forgiveness can happen without a renewed relationship, that shameful thoughts or motives, when confided to a trusted friend or clergy, can begin a process of restoration, and that sometimes change comes through painful experiences we didn't choose but also through choosing the pain of what may be uncomfortable or unfamiliar, but absolutely the right thing in the long run.

In the mean time, I am no longer in my twenties. I am thinking about what I eat, beauty rituals (I hate even taking a shower!) and changing bad habits. 

It may not be in the Bible verbatim, but I am certain that cleanliness is next to godliness--and that obviously goes for every aspect of how we choose to exist. 

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