I keep track all year long. Success or failure. Complete or miss. I’m a habit tracker and I use an app on my phone to track whether or not I ate too much, drank too much, stayed within our budget, did my spiritual workout, smoked, exercised, and even if I blogged once a week (not doing very well on that one recently). I started doing this to try and “live myself into a new way of being.” I’ve had mixed results.
But a few days ago I came to the realization that I’m really focusing on sins. Have I been good or have I been bad? And beyond that, I’ve been focusing on sins that Jesus didn’t much care about. I’m not saying Jesus wanted us to sin – he clearly doesn’t – but the kind of sins I’m focusing on didn’t get much mention by him.
A few thoughts from Richard Rohr have begun to spark something in me:
For some reason, we tend to localize evil in our bodies more than in our mind, heart and spirit. We are terribly ashamed of our embodiment, and our shame is invariably located in addictive things like drinking, drugs, sex, overeating and body image. Maybe that is why God had to become a body in Jesus! God needed to tell us it was good to be a human body. That is central and pivotal to the Christmas message.
We dare not try and fill our minds with numbing addictions, discovery tactics, or mindless distractions. The shape of evil is much more superficiality and blindness than the usually listed “hot sins.”
What I think I’m starting to see – or at least to wonder about – is if I’m focused on the wrong things. It makes me wonder if I instead focused on the way I treated others instead of the way I treat these carnal sins, would the “sins of the flesh” get easier for me? I mean, I do want to be healthy and take care of my body and mind, but I also don’t want to be an egotistical, manipulative jerk. I don’t want to be someone who tries to gain power over another or judges others and myself by whether or not I’m “better” than them.
I had a friend write me a message once that said, “I am full of vice and I enjoy it. I am unashamed of being sinful. It’s okay.” I wonder what my life would be like if I was free from that self-loathing over sin? I don’t really think Jesus wants us to hate ourselves – in fact, I think one of his most famous quotes was about loving others as we love ourselves.
I don’t know what I’m going to do, if I’m still going to track those same things in 2016 or not, but I do know I’m going to try and change my focus. Because what good would it be for me to be thin, in shape, and in control if my relationships aren’t in very good shape? What good would it be for me to go 90% of the year without smoking if I haven’t enjoyed and loved the people in my life that same percentage?
Rohr says, “God needed to tell us that it was good to be a human body.” Is that the central message of Christmas? I might need to dig into that more. Maybe I can track it somehow.