Yoga seems to be the thing to do for happiness and mental clarity. I asked for a mat for Christmas and I pictured serene mornings in the living room with the sun just starting to peer through the blinds as I gracefully bent my body and breathed deeply the freshness of a new day. And then I pictured myself sipping a cup of coffee quietly at the kitchen table, completely “zen” and energized to start my day.
Let me tell you how my mornings actually go: I hit the snooze button at least twice (but realistically it’s more like 6-8 times). Then I rush around in a frenzy as I attempt to iron something I didn’t plan on wearing, pack some food for the day, and try to decide if I have time to swing by Starbucks on the way to work. I usually scarf down a bowl of cereal and watch The Office on Netflix as I do my makeup and curl my hair. My mornings are anything but peaceful.
So as my turquoise yoga mat is neatly rolled up and gathering dust like so many other good-intentions and New Year’s resolutions, I started to ask myself why I wanted to do yoga in the first place. And then I started realizing there was a question underneath that one: Do I like doing yoga? (The answer I’m realizing is “no”) or Do I like the idea of being a person who does yoga? I realized that I loved picturing myself in cute workout clothes or sharing with others my ultra-trendy and disciplined morning routine. But yoga is not necessarily my type of exercise.
I have kept a pretty significant goal I made for myself this year: I exercised for 100 days in a row! And I’ve found that I continued to work out because I love my workouts. They are a blend of cardio (yes, running and the elliptical!) and weight-lifting (which I had never really focused on in the past). When I reflect on what I really needed, it was to exercise and to find more quiet in my life. I was drawn to the peace of yoga-type mornings, the physical strength it required and promoted, and the discipline of a routine. All of those things I have accomplished through my gym challenge and through purposely waking up earlier each day to spend time reading my Bible.
What I actually needed was not what I was pursuing. Questions, for me, always lead to more questions and then I started asking myself: How often do I pursue an activity because I like the ways it appears or how it may make me look? Do I live my life in pursuit of liking the “idea” of something more than what it actually takes?
When I declare that I follow God am I picturing the mountain-top experiences or the perfectly filtered Instagram photos of a cup of coffee and my Bible open? What is it that I actually need? I need to have difficulties and hard times and I need to live out a faith full of tension and growth. I need quiet in my life not for anyone else, but for the ultimate peace of my soul and the filling of my spirit.
Are there certain activities that I like the “idea” of them more than actually doing them?
What do I actually need?
What are some alternate ways to meet these needs?
In what areas is God challenging me to grow?
Do I make time for self-care and personal growth?