“Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.” It’s a riff on 1 Corinthians 10:23, and it’s been running through my head for nearly two weeks now. Every few months I like to take a quiet morning on the weekend and sit down to consider this, to apply it to my own life. Where am I going on a tangent, sapping my energies with wasteful endeavours, when my true purpose lies elsewhere?
It’s been chilly this past week, and when I say chilly, I mean that a blanket of white has covered the town of Jasper and the mountains that surround it. Just looking outside makes me want to stay home. It’s kept me from the gym, the library, and even from the stitching club that started up last week. I’ve been coming up with creative excuses for not going out, and my fridge is starting to like pretty pathetic. I’ve done an excellent job of using up what I’ve got in the house.
Beyond that, the past couple of weeks my personal spiritual practices have fallen into a bit of a slump. I finished my book by Shane Claiborne on The New Monasticism—I highly recommend it, even if you’re not leaning towards the lifestyle. I’ve started sleeping in later instead of taking time to get up and read my Bible in the morning. I’m not sure what it is about the morning, but it’s just so much more darned productive for me than if I come home and try to do stuff after work. I much prefer mornings for almost everything.
Due to the fact that I tend to want to relax after work, I’ve gotten into this horrible habit of turning on the TV or booting up my laptop and finding a television show to watch. It can suck hours from my life, and it also means that I’ve fallen into the trap of eating in front of the TV or computer. This is highly detrimental considering my endeavours to lose weight.
Not everything is bad though. It’s easy to focus on the bad and forget about the good. After reading the book Forks Over Knives, I’ve decided to adopt a plant-based diet for a year. Basically I’m going vegan, reducing my sugar intake, and reducing my intake of processed foods. Many people hear this and give me a pitying look, but I look at it and see it as a step in the right direction. If it reduces my risk of heart disease, breast cancer, obesity, and diabetes, I’m in. If it means that less carbon dioxide, monoxide, and methane are being pumped into our atmosphere, I’m in. If it means that factory farming and the abuse of animals can be clear in my conscience, so much the better. After all, God gave us the earth to care for it, not abuse it to fit our whims and Westernized lifestyle.
For many Christians, it seems much easier to take a concept like that and justify it, essentially burying our heads in the sands. But look at how well that works out for the ostrich.
Back to the task at hand! Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. Well, I’ve taken a look at areas in my life where what I’m doing isn’t beneficial. Now, it’s time to look for the change. Now, it’s time to make a list of beneficial. This is a list of things that are permissible, that will enhance life rather than make me lazy and suck the hours away. So here it is!
1) Get involved in the community—volunteer with a cause you connect with
2) Take part in local clubs and initiatives, ones that will allow you to network and build skills i.e. a stitching club, Toastmasters, or a swimming club
3) Increase your vocabulary—start doing crossword puzzles. Not only will you learn new words, but you never know when useless facts will come in handy. Slumdog Millionaire anyone?
4) Knowledge is power—If you’re like me and at the beginning of your career with some thirty years of work stretching in front of you, then now is a good time to recognize that our culture and economy is built on knowledge. While the adage, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” may hold true in many cases, if you change that adage to, “It’s what you know and who you know,” then you’re a shoe-in. Start reading, and not just in your area of expertise. YouTube also has some great instructional videos for things like the internet and social networking. And if you can’t get it for free, you might have to pay for it. Learn while you work—Google continuing education.
5) Recognize the value of the spiritual—humans are more than just physical forms, they are also composed of the mental and the spiritual. Take time to develop your relationship with God. Learn to meditate, read, and write. Learn to converse with the master of the universe who loves his creation beyond what we can imagine. After all, who doesn’t want God on their side?
6) Get fit!—This one doesn’t need much explanation in a culture that is obsessed with physical appearance. Just make sure that getting fit also means getting healthy. Remember, it doesn’t matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping the people on the couch.
That’s the list of beneficial for now. If you’ve got anything to add, feel free to comment!