Finding Steady Amidst the Sway of Life
“It’s gonna be a sway day,” a nice gentleman mentioned to our family as we approached the famed St. Louis Arch on a windy day. Built in 1965 and standing over 600 ft. tall, it is an icon of this country’s expansion westward and is visited by more than one million people every year. Over 600ft tall is not trite. That height is enough to make even the bravest of us catch our breath. And yet, as our family took the unique tram system to the top of the arch and stepped out onto the platform, what this local dubbed a “sway day”, immediately made us brace our feet, steady our walk, and hold on to our kids. This incredible edifice did in fact, sway, on this 30mph+ windy day, and this swaying brought to mind the sway of our spiritual life. What reminds me to brace my feet each day or reach out to steady my spiritual walk? Who do I hold on to when life is unbalanced? It is important to consider the following 3 areas during our “sways” of life if we are to stay encouraged.
Most of us recognize that as we grow spiritually, Christ does not promise us a glorious, easy life. There are many joys in our everyday life and our seasons of life but also, many woes and sorrows. Knowing our purpose in life and who we place our confidence in as life ebbs and flows is important to combat sway. This is called our identity. Ephesians 2:10 states “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them”. Remaining “steadfast” and “unmovable” towards “labour in the Lord” (1 Corinth. 15:58) as jobs change, loved ones pass, moves occur, and life brings ups and downs is important to steady oneself in the sway of life. Constant news updates, social media feeds, and cultural attitudes of “I’m the center of the world” can add plenty of unbalance to that sway. Remembering Scriptural truths to steady ourselves in our identity in Christ is key to counteract this unbalance.
4D Holistic Health
God not only created us to have a purpose and identity in Him, but he also created us as a multi-faceted being. Our physical, emotional, spiritual, and relational health all have a bearing on how “sway” affects our life. At different times we can experience a natural sway in how well we are functioning in any one of these parts. It is important to intentionally work to stabilize and steady each of these parts to prevent sway that can cause us to stumble as we navigate life.
- Physically – Our physical health means the general condition of our body and functioning of body systems. Good physical health can positively affect our emotional, spiritual, and relational health and likewise the contrary is true as poor physical health can negatively affect our emotions, spiritual well-being, and relationships. Decent stamina and endurance, a balanced diet, healthy weight for height and age, and adequate sleep are indicators of good physical health. Routine medical check-ups and learning to listen to your body help us stabilize physical sway.
- Emotionally – Our emotions can take on their own identity from time. If we are honest with ourselves, we can be angry, happy, anxious, and worried all in the span of 24 hours. An increase in struggles with anxiety and depression, social media use, and our body’s hormones only add to this emotional roller coaster. Emotionally healthy individuals acknowledge things might not be as they seem and realize we may have shadows from past experiences that can restrict good emotions from time-to-time. Staying connected to resources (both relational and professional) when unhealthy emotions are present can help in the emotional sway of life.
- Relationally – Intentionally engaging with supportive individuals, leaning into your community, and practicing vulnerability stabilizes relational sway. Our relationships are often a meter by which we get energy and connection. Finding those who love, listen, and learn with you throughout life’s sway is important. Minimizing, or at least being aware of, relationships that do not offer biblical perspectives or provide a holistic balance to life is a good practice in healthy boundaries.
- Spiritually –Often, our spiritual life seems very distant from our bodies, our emotions, or our relationships; yet, how we think about God and our relationship with him interplays with all the aforementioned. Engaging in spiritual disciplines of intentional prayer, devotions, Bible studies, rest, and Sabbath can help stabilize spiritual sway and allow us a physical, emotional, and relational reset.
Lastly, as believers, it is important to remember we are merely passing through this world. During difficult times it is important to hold on to hope – a simple 4-letter word that makes all the difference. Hope is a state of mind, and true hope is found only in our everlasting Creator as we put our trust and faith in him. We must learn to live with and make room for unsettledness or sway in life while maintaining hope in our eternal purpose rather than our temporal circumstances. Allow Romans 15:13 to run through your daily monologue to reinforce and strengthen your hope – “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”
Can you imagine if the builders and designers of the St. Louis Arch gave up after the first few difficulties they encountered? Many struggles had to be overcome to enjoy the beautiful feat we can enjoy today. The design of the actual arc at the top, how to support the beams, how to get visitors safely to the top are just a few of the challenges they faced. What if the designers gave up, losing hope, and throwing in the towel?
Likewise, we as believers need to understand our “sway” will not last forever. Yes, some struggles in life may be our “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor. 12:7) on this side of glory and may present a life-long tension and sanctifier. However, there are also life lessons or seasons that come into our lives, remind us that this world is not our home, and have us digging deep to brace our footing and hold on to the cross. Cling to verses such as Philippians 1:6 that speaks to “being confident in Christ”. Holding on to the cross with purpose, a holistic health mindset, and with hope in Christ will ultimately help us balance this sway we experience through life.
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