Full Disclosure: I starting to write this in oversized sweatpants, oversized fleece sweatshirt and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s - Half Baked that was on sale from Target. Don’t judge, just hear my heart. Also, the clothes have an “L” on the tag, and they are just dated.
Extra Full Disclosure: I’m not usually one than thinks about weight too much. I’ve been fairly active my whole life, I don’t regularly work out but I do love sports. I’m 6’1” - 172.5 lbs and I usually get comments about how I can’t put on weight. But I turned 30 recently and I found some extra skin above my belt buckle and I’m not entire sure how it got there. I don’t do intense research, but I read a good number of articles and I’d like to think that I’m pretty aware of the big ideas when it comes to food, weight gain, lack of water intake and how you “never lose fat cells”.
Okay, enough disclosure, let’s get to the fatty stuff. We’ve had a very interesting Christmas and Thanksgiving this year because we are dealing with the loss of my mother-in-law, new family dynamics, as well as a unique season in our daily work. All that has, especially after reading the book Saturate by Jeff Vanderstelt, got me thinking about rhythms. I really like the word “rhythm” more than “balance”. By rhythm I intend the Webster definition of “a regularly recurring sequence of events, actions, or processes”. Ocean tides have rhythm, they are not in balance. Seasons have a rhythm, though you wouldn’t know it by this Ohio winter. Balance is for yoga, rhythm is for people.
Speaking of people, we are organic, living organisms. When I think about living organism, now anyway, they have a rhythm to their life, more than a balance to constantly adhere too. Bears prepare for hibernation by fattening up for the winter months. Squirrels stash away acorns and anything remotely edible that I may leave on my front porch. Whales get quite whaleish before they take migratory journeys so they can nurse their young and not have to focus as much time and energy on finding food.
At this point, I’ve stoppped eating my Ben & Jerry’s and I’m drinking water, I’m so healthy.
Living things have rhythms, they live in seasons, they are not finely tuned machines that live in perfect balance at all times. Bears don’t care about their BMI, neither do squirrels. Pregenant pigs don’t worry about looking fat during their pregnancy, they are probably more wired to care for what’s inside of them, in this case it’s their young.
Solomon, King David’s son, famously wrote in the first 4 verses of Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 (ESV)
"For everything there is a season,
These words are so recognizably powerful that a quick Wikipedia search will tell you that with the song “Turn! Turn! Turn!” by The Byrds became and international hit and at least in the U.S. “the song holds distinction as the #1 hit with the oldest lyrics (Book of Ecclesiastes)”. Solomon better be getting some royalties from that! Also I'm pretty sure Simon & Garfunkel wrote about this, but I couldn't find the song quick enough.
Life is in rhythm, it’s natural and created that way. The Earth orbits asymmetrically around the Sun. It doesn’t rain from 2-4pm each day, but during natural “rainy seasons”. I'm struggling to think of anything in perfect balance that exists in nature. From atoms to solar systems, there is a rhythm and degree of imperfection.
Another interesting truth is in Proverbs 20 verse 4, it tells us that
"Those too lazy to plow in the right season
That’s rhythm, that’s not balance.
Proverbs 6 reminds us that even ants stores provisions in the summer and gathers at the harvest. It then tells us to not be lazy and sleep all day.
Natural rhythm, not balance.
Our culture has become obsessed with balance at the neglect of God-given rhythms. It occured to me how ridiculous it is for us to track “steps” in our attempt to be a healthy person. I’m not condeming step-counters or Apple Watches but it’s crazy to think moving into the “Green Zone” three days ago is the answer to a healthy life. Healthy structure should be a means to an end, not the end itself.
Marketers have long recognized natural rhythms and found a way to make money by reminding us to eat lots of turkey on Thanksgiving, ham and cookies on Christmas and embrace the “New Year, New You” after the first of January. I for one have a Perfect Pushup collecting dust in my room and I was narrrowly ousted out of a Perfect Ab Roller this Christmas at an As Seen on TV gift exchange. I would’ve have probably went out and bought the Ab Roller if it wasn’t $39.99 and Amazon refused to double my order if I purchased it in the next 10 minutes.
What I’m trying to say is that you and I, as a human beings, have been created with rhythms and seasons, and I believe that we're supposed to embrace those rhythms more than hold to the fine-line of balance.
I’m not anti-marketing, I actually love marketing.
I’m not anti-exercise, I enjoy exercise when I have a workout buddy.
I’m not anti-sweets, I regularly enjoy Sour Patch Kids, and occasionally Ben & Jerry’s.
I am against guilt, when the source of that guilt is 2 pounds.
I am against having marketers tell me what my purpose in life and what rhythms I should employ.
I am against excessive weight gain under the umbrella of holiday festivities.
I don’t want to be a squirrel, or a bear, or a pregenant whale. I desire to live in the healthy rhythms that God has design for me. My life will never be in perfect balance, but I can live in godly rhythm. Genesis tells us that God rested after he had worked for 6 days, a natural rhythm that teaches us about God and about ourselves. Jesus created high-quality wine from water at the wedding of Canaan, doing many things including amping up the time of celebration.
I’m so glad God exemplified healthy rhythms of work, rest, celebration, mourning, etc. I’m so glad that Jesus didn’t go around like a divine health consultant and ensure that everyone at the wedding was consuming their 3200 calories and 6 liters of water. He created celebration, and knew how to embrace it on Earth, in divine rhythm.
Will I buy the Perfect Ab Roller? Maybe, if it goes under $20.
Will I gain a few pounds this holiday season? Probably, and if don’t work off those pounds by the time my snap peas come up, I’ll have to get up early to play disc golf for exercise.
I’m not always great at celebrating, I love Christmas-time but I can’t dance outside my living room. I want to celebrate Jesus during this season. I want to eat great food with my family and friends. I don’t want to miss the joy of this season and try to squeeze joy out of those numbers of my bathroom scale.
I want to follow a divine-design and laugh heartily when it’s time to laugh, cry when it’s time to cry, eat when it’s time to eat, and work when it’s time to work, and nap when the Lions are playing.
So I think you should consider gaining a few pounds this season, by celebrating heartily with family. Let’s not let our pursuit of Perfect Abs get in the way of our pursuit of a life full of meaning and joy in Jesus.
Jesus came to give us life and life to the fullest, and that’s found in embracing him and the rhythms he designed us for.
P.S. I'm not wearing sweatpants as I publish this, but jeans.
Here are some answers to Frequent Asked Questions about this new season for our family.
What is your role or job? Heather and I are Nationally Appointed Candidate Missionaries with Chi Alpha. Chi Alpha is the Assemblies of God (AG) outreach to secular universities and colleges. Because we are missionaries, we are therefore 100% supported by the generosity of friends, families, and churches.
What is this new position? We are currently applying to be a National Appointed (NA) couple. NA opens many great things for us in Dayton and allows to to be more committed to university students in Dayton, Ohio. Part of the requirement of National Appointment is Itinerarion, aka fund-raising for an increased budget. This time of itineration requires us to fully devote our time to raising support, that means we can not be on campus ministering to students until our budget is 100% raised.
Are you coming back to Dayton? Yes, We are coming back to Dayton, in fact we aren't leaving. We aren't moving out of Dayton, even though we are praying for a new place to live. We will be traveling a lot, but Dayton is our earthly-home, and we love it here.
What about this new church plant I heard about? I'd love to talk about that more, but because of the timing, I can not speak about it here. I'd love to meet up with you and share more. We are really really excited about it and have been dreaming of it for years.
How can we help? I'm glad you asked, or maybe I asked for you. We would love you to help! Our biggest needs are prayers, new monthly financial supporters, and referrals. If you'd like to help us reach university students in Dayton, please call, text or email me! We'd love to hear from you.
There is more details below, hopefully it answers most of all your questions. If you'd like to talk more, ask questions or even recommend some people that would want to be on our support team. Please let us know!
A few terms to help everyone understand.
Missionary Associates: Like many other missions organization, we are 100% financially supported by friends, family and churches. This is an exciting way to live, but it obviously comes with challenges as well. We get to regularly trust God with our finances and regularly see Him come through in miraculous ways. Faithful financial support from friends, church and family is the main way that God provides for us. But, God isn't limited to that, He finds ways all the time to take care of us, His kids.
National Appointment: National Appointment is similar to saying "I want to be a missionary for the long haul". That is our heart as well. We are committed to Dayton as long as the Lord has us here, and we love it here! We love it so much we want to find ways to love Dayton and serve the university students even more.
National Appointment will open multiple doors that aren't provided to regular MAs. One big thing is that we can host a Nationally Approved XA Internship in Dayton, Ohio. With three very different universities, all still in great need, Dayton can be a wonderful launching pad for Chi Alpha missionaries around the world. We won't be the only National XA Internship, but we do want to be one that we'd want to attend ourselves *wink*
Itineration: Just like world missionaries that have to plan to regularly step off the field to raise more support (new projects, inflation, supporter relations), XA Missionaries going through National Appointment are expected to step off their mission field and fully dedicate their time to support raising. This is a very good thing! The benefits of stepping off for a season include:
- Budget gets raised quicker because of a singular focus
- We get to share lots more stories about what God is doing then if we had to balance story-sharing and regular campus ministry
- Leaders on campus take more ownership. We are always training students to be leaders, and it's good for them to have a time to stretch their wings because we won't be their local pastor most of their life.
- A time of reset for priorities, schedules, and life. Even though we will be very active communicating with churches, friends, family and new supporters, we get to write much more of our schedule than our normal time on campus. Fall push, Wednesday nights, and many other things will be very different, but "zooming out" is extremely healthy and will enable to be even more focused and healthy when we return.
We aren't leaving Dayton: One great thing about Itinerarion is that we don't have to move! If you live in Dayton, you may not see us as much since we will be gone for many Sunday's, visiting churches in other cities. So if you don't see us at Bethel Christian, check Facebook, or our house.
I hope this helps and gives you a picture of our next season, as always, feel free to connect with us, ask questions, etc.
Andy, Heather & Addy