Spiritual Fitness: It Only Takes a Decade…Or Two

Catherine Gregg, Christian Formation and Direction Ministries

Spiritual fitness, like physical fitness, cannot be developed overnight. The development of rhythms of grace that enable us to become discerning, wise and good is the process of a lifetime. 

I remember sharing (with great frustration), how difficult it was to be patient as a mother with small children. Patience in dealing with them wasn’t the problem, as much as patience with my life circumstances. Would I ever get a good night’s sleep again? When would I have the freedom to do “significant things” in the workforce that would bring praise from colleagues and competitors? When could I wear “real clothes” again? How long would it be before I could have a conversation with someone over three feet high—someone with whom I could discuss ideas, concepts and dreams? My friend wisely counseled me that I was in the very place where patience could develop: there is no way to hurry growing up! By relaxing into the process of parenting and finding the joy in small steps and sticky fingers, I could enter into a world of wonder and of possibility. “Give yourself to where you are, and be faithful in these small things—and you’ll see how God works with you.” 

It took a decade or two of practicing patience within a context of things that change slowly to begin to understand the grace that God was working into my life. Apart from the joy of sharing my children’s childhood with them by being really present, I also learned that the things I most hope will define me (love, joy, peace) are things that will take decades to work into my being. Thinking in the “big picture” of decades, rather than just weeks or months, was very helpful to me. A standard line in our family has become, “Just give it a decade or two and you’ll be amazed what happens!” Practicing trust, practicing gentleness, practicing presence are spiritual disciplines that change us at the deepest levels of our being.