Often times in my faith journey I find myself hitting a wall. Sometimes life is so dark that it's hard to even pray. Church becomes routine and sometimes even that is too difficult.
Life is messy and full of disappointments. Sometimes it’s mental health, sometimes it's relational. Sometimes spiritual. Sometimes good people get sick and it’s just not fair. Where is God in all of this?
Jesus never promised us an easy road
“Do not think that I came to bring you peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword”. (Matthew chapter 10, verse 34).
Jesus never promised our lives will be easy just because we are Christians. In fact, he promised we would suffer for it.
I know I come from a place of privilege being a Christian in the western world where my human rights of being able to worship and partake in any religion is being met. Many religious people of all faiths around the world are not as lucky as me.
However the freedom to partake in religious activities free from any real dangers doesn’t help when life becomes disappointing. But he promised to be with us. “Be still and know that I am with you” (Psalms 46, verse 10). But like all relationships, it takes effort from our end.
Holistic health and faith
While I studied youth work through Praxis, I was introduced to a Lakota artist’s (George Bluebird) drawing called “the circle of courage”. The model describes a way for youth workers to develop resilience in young people.
”Beginning in the east, all children need to belong, to master, to become independent and to contribute to others in a spirit of generosity”.*
It reminded me of how we come to a point as Christians when we have to grow up in our faith and figure out where we are in our faith. The same model reminded me of the Maori model called “Te whare tapa wha”.
One speaks of resilience, one speaks of all four aspects of health (physical, mental/emotional, relational and spiritual). For me, my health has a huge impact on my ability to participate in my faith life.
What I’ve learned
I have learned that I need to look after my WHOLE being in order to fully participate in Christian culture. Prayer is important, but it usually only helps in the spiritual.
I also need to live healthy (exercise and eat well) and look after my mental health. What often gets overlooked is relational health. We need to check in on our friends and family. Talk about our problems and support each other.
These things along with living out my faith with resilience is how I deal with life's disappointments, and not forgetting gardening. I really enjoy gardening (even if the weather has made the experience disappointing).
*Brendtro, Larry & du Toit, Lesley.(2005). Response Ability Pathways Restoring bounds of Respect. Page 14. Cape Town, Pretext Publishers.
Chanell Diaz is a member of The Salvation Army in New Zealand. She and her husband Ronald both work as child care workers and Chanell is also a qualified Youth Worker through Praxis. Chanell has a heart for justice and enjoys creating art and writing in her spare time.