I am so incredibly lazy, it’s mind-boggling.
Particular when it concerns anything that’s good for me.
Right now I am in desperate need of some exercise. Anything. Getting up and moving around. Stretching. I want to go to a water fitness class or do something that involves working my muscles, increasing my heart-rate, getting my blood flowing. I am feeling completely better from the pulled muscle in my back a few weeks ago, but since then I have basically done nothing exercise-wise and I feel like I am starting to seize up. And it’s not like I was doing a huge amount of exercise before that happened.
There are certain things I know are good for me. I enjoy doing them. I feel yucky when I don’t do them. Yet if I stop, it’s almost impossible to get started again. Laziness creeps in and overwhelms me.
One of these things is exercising my body. The other is exercising my spirit — doing anything on a regular basis that’s good for me spiritually. Prayer, meditation, Bible study, what we used to call “having devotions” or “having a quiet time” or just anything that stretches my spiritual muscles.
All my life, I have struggled with these two practices. Now that I’m in mid-life (though not in mid-life crisis, yet), I can recognize my patterns clearly, and they apply to both body-exercise and soul-exercise.
1. I start a new practice. Could be water fitness, working out on the weight machine, walking the track, memorizing Psalms, meditating, journalling — whatever.
2. I enjoy the practice and find it physically or spiritually exciting and restorative. I even tell other people about how great it is.
3. I keep it up and think how wonderful I am for finally doing this regularly (time period here is usually 6 weeks – 3 months).
4. I stop doing the practice regularly for a few days. I force myself to go back to it, but it gets sporadic.
5. I give up. I recognize that I’ve become bored with that particular practice and need a change of pace, something to shake me up and get me going again. The obvious solution is to immediately start trying a new practice.
6. I do nothing. I remind myself — well, if we’re talking about spiritual exercise, I remind myself that I’m saved by grace, not by works. If we’re talking physical exercise, I remind myself that I love my body and I refuse to buy into the North American female body-hating mentality, and that I’m fine just as I am. I tell myself that I’m active enough, spiritual enough, that I don’t really need regular disciplines and practices. Laziness completely envelops me. (Time period here can be, again, a few weeks to a few months).
7. I start to feel either physical or spiritual malaise — or, if my timing’s right and I’m off-track both physically and spiritually (as now), both. Cranky, tired, like my muscles aren’t getting the workout they need.
8. I try a new practice and I like it. The cycle begins again.
I have lived this pattern so often I know it far better than the back of my hand. (“Gee, what’s that? A freckle? Never noticed that before…”)
The question is, why can’t I change the pattern? I understand that I need change and variety in my physical and spiritual routines. But why can’t I skip straight from step 5 to step 8, eliminating the laziness and negativity and non-productive time spent in Sloughs 6 and 7? When a routine, whether physical or spiritual, starts to get boring or difficult to maintain, why can’t I try something else immediately?
I don’t know the answer. I know that I’ve been at stage 6 for a few months now and am definitely moving into stage 7 on both physical and spiritual fronts. I don’t know yet what my new #8 is going to be, how I’m going to get active again, but based on past experience I know that I will. What I really need to know is, how can I change the pattern? Do other people still struggle with this after years and years of trying to living physically and spiritually healthy lifestyles?